Leavenworth High should have mailed this one in.
The pitiful Pioneers, long the Sunflower League football punching bag, had as much chance of defeating Free State as a write-in candidate does in a presidential election.
And, of course, the Pios didn’t win. The Firebirds went through the motions and posted a 55-0 victory Friday night at the Free State field.
“It was one of those games that really doesn’t help anybody,” Free State senior tight end Louis Bateman said.
About all it did — at least from Free State’s standpoint — was wipe out the bitter taste of last week’s 38-20 loss to unbeaten Olathe North. But it was almost like a week off for the Firebirds’ first-stringers, who sat out the last quarter and a half.
All week long, Free State coach Bob Lisher talked about how anything could happen when you play a team that has nothing to lose, and he talked about not taking a step back at a time when the team should be peaking.
So did Lisher see any areas of improvement?
“Our kickoff coverage was outstanding,” he said. “That’s something we’ve been pretty good at, but we were very good tonight.”
They certainly had plenty of opportunities, kicking off to start the game and then following their eight touchdowns.
This one wasn’t over before it started, but it basically was history after the Firebirds’ second play. Free State began with a 50-yard pass from Camren Torneden to Aundre Allen that carried to the Pioneers’ three-yard line, and tailback Kirk Resseguie carried it over on the next down.
Free State’s second possession was more of a struggle. It took the Firebirds five plays to cover 60 yards with Resseguie again bolting over, this time from one yard out.
And so it went. A Free State possession, a short drive, a touchdown.
When it was all over, both Resseguie and Torneden had scored three times apiece on short runs. Torneden also precipitated the arrival of the reserves when he returned a punt 71 yards for a TD midway through the third quarter that made the score 48-0.
Afterward, it didn’t take long for the conversation to turn toward next Friday’s intracity clash with Lawrence High. Even though the Lions, like the Pioneers, are winless, the Firebirds aren’t talking like all they’ll have to do is show up like they did against Leavenworth.
“The key to Lawrence High is it’s a rivalry game,” senior Spencer Chestnut said, “and you never know. There have been bigger upsets.”
In truth, a win by the 0-7 Lions over the 5-2 Firebirds would be the biggest shocker in this short crosstown rivalry of just a dozen years.
“They could come in here and upset us and turn their season around,” Lisher said, “They’ll come in here hungry.”
At the same time, Lisher has been preaching the one-game-at-a-time mantra during the three-game district playoffs, so Leavenworth is one down with two to go.
“The next game is our most important game,” Lisher said, “because it’s a district game and not just because it’s Lawrence High.”
Next Friday will be Senior Night. The Firebirds’ regular season and district finale will be Oct. 30 at Olathe Northwest.