Olathe South at LHS
When: 7 tonight
Where: Lawrence High
When the Lawrence High football team began the season, Lions coach Dirk Wedd had no idea what kind of a player junior Jon Pederson would be.
Four weeks — and four losses — later, Wedd knows exactly what the blue-collar, surprise starter can bring to the field.
“Jon is the type of kid that bleeds Lawrence High School,” Wedd said. “He’s too small and he’s too slow to be any good but he has tremendous heart and desire. The kids absolutely love him and they understand that, pound-for-pound, he’s a special football player. I’d say he’s probably our most improved player this season.”
Earning that title hasn’t been easy. Through the first three weeks of the season, Pederson has started at three different positions. He’s been a free safety, strong safety and outside linebacker and made plays from all three positions.
Tonight, when Lawrence High (0-4) plays host to Olathe South (2-2) during homecoming, Pederson figures to finally get a second crack at one of those positions. For him, though, it doesn’t matter which one it is.
“It’s work ethic,” said Pederson when asked why he’d been able to succeed at each spot. “I grew up with good work ethic being something that was important and that’s all it is. I just go out there and work hard.”
That’s not just in games, not just when the bright lights high above give everyone a little extra bounce in their step. That’s every day, rain or shine.
“I think the reason he’s our most improved player is because he’s the first one on the field every day,” Wedd said. “He almost beats me onto the field. I think a lot of guys are starting to take notice, too. We’re playing a lot of sophomores right now and I think the sophomores sincerely look up to him.”
Looking up to Pederson is a start. Playing and preparing like him is the next step. That’s exactly what the Lions will look to do when they take on Olathe South at 7 tonight at LHS.
The Falcons enter the game on the heels of a come-from-behind victory against Shawnee Mission North in Week 3. Against the Indians — who topped LHS, 17-14, in Week 1 — the Falcons trailed by 21 points before prevailing, 35-28. The Falcons’ ground game was largely responsible for the comeback. But the Lions are preparing for the run and the pass.
“They throw it all over the field,” Wedd said. “They’ll throw it 40 times if they have to. They like to get their guys in space and that’s an area of concern for us.”
It’s no secret LHS is still searching for its first victory this season. But the slow start has done nothing to deter the togetherness of the team.
“I kind of think it has brought us together more than anything,” senior Ricky Bellinger said. “And that’s a good thing because everybody’s going to have to work together for us to get it done.”
Although the Lions have shown flashes of solid play throughout each of their four losses, they have yet to put together a complete game. With homecoming festivities highlighting tonight’s contest, Pederson said he’d love to see the Lions put it all together.
“It’s homecoming and there’s going to be a lot more people out here,” he said. “If there’s any week to do it, this is the week.”