From the frying pan into the … uh, refrigerator?
Free State High’s football team will go from arguably the best Class 6A football team in the state to perhaps the worst.
Just a week after bowing to unbeaten Olathe North, the Firebirds will tangle with winless Leavenworth tonight in their district opener.
Kickoff will be at 7 p.m. at the new Free State facility.
So the inevitable question is: Will the Firebirds come out flat after that deflating 38-20 loss to O-North?
“I don’t think so,” coach Bob Lisher said. “We’re anxious to get that bad taste out of our mouths.”
That seems to be the mantra among the players, too.
“I think we’re ready to move on,” defensive back Dylan Perry said, “and get back to basics.”
Aundre Allen, a senior wide receiver who caught two touchdown passes from Camren Torneden Friday night, stressed the Firebirds can’t afford a letdown.
“We’re not going to look past anybody, regardless of their record,” Allen said. “If we don’t concentrate, we might end up losing.”
If the Firebirds do lose to the Pioneers, it will be the first time. Since Free State High opened in 1997, the two schools have met 10 times in football, and the Firebirds have captured all 10 games, mostly by lopsided scores.
In fact, over the last three seasons, Free State has outscored the Pioneers, 156-21.
Leavenworth has won only three games over the last three-plus seasons. Among the Pios’ defeats this fall were a 71-6 thumping by Olathe North and a 53-3 pasting by Olathe East.
O-North and O-East are the only two blemishes on the Firebirds’ season. O-East tripped Free State, 29-20, in the season opener.
On paper, the Firebirds look like a cinch to win their three-game district. Next week, they’ll entertain Lawrence High, like Leavenworth winless, then travel to 2-4 Olathe Northwest.
Putting it another way, Free State’s three district foes have a combined record of 2-16.
Nevertheless, Lisher is emphasizing that Leavenworth, Olathe Northwest and particularly crosstown rival Lawrence High won’t come in waving white flags.
“In district play,” Lisher said, “it is one game at a time. You can’t take anybody lightly.”
On the injury front, linebacker Henry Vaeono, a 6-foot, 210-pound junior, will return to duty this week after missing the O-North game due to an injury.
Quarterback Torneden and 240-pound tackle A.J. Simons were battling the flu bug at midweek, but Lisher said he expects both of those seniors to play tonight.