When Lawrence High senior Dom Reiske injured his right ankle midway through the Lions’ third football game, he targeted last week’s Free State game for his return.
But that game — a 42-14 LHS loss — came and went with Reiske on the sidelines after he learned his ankle had not healed properly and that he likely was finished for the season.
“When I heard that, I just thought I was done,” Reiske said. “I didn’t think I’d play again.”
But the 5-foot-9, 160-pound has been cleared to play tonight in the Lions’ finale against Leavenworth. Kickoff will be at 7 p.m. at the Lions’ field. Sunflower Broadband channel 6 will carry a delayed telecast at 10:30 p.m.
“It’s a miracle,” Reiske said. “They told me that my ankle had built up enough caluses around the edge of the bone and that there are a lot more calcified parts around it, and they cleared me to play. They said there’s a chance that it might re-break, but they said it was my call. I’m playing.”
So much for tonight’s game between two winless teams not meaning anything.
When the Lions (0-8) play host to the Pioneers (0-8), a season worth of struggles will end for one of the teams. With a handful of seniors still searching for their legacy and a brand-new home stadium still missing its first victory, the Lions hope and expect they’ll be the players walking off the field with heads high.
“This is a big game,” LHS coach Dirk Wedd said. “And it’s big for a couple of reasons. First, we want to send our seniors off on a good note. But secondly, and just as important, we want our juniors and sophomores to get a victory going into the offseason so they’ll have something to feel good about and build on.”
Although its record may indicate otherwise, Leavenworth won’t be a pushover. Wedd said the Pioneers have done their share of damage this season — particularly offensively — but always seemed to come up short when it came time to make a key play.
“They had over 200 yards rushing against Shawnee Mission West, and we didn’t have 100 yards rushing, so that gets your attention real quick,” Wedd said. “And they moved the ball somewhat against Free State, too. They just seem like they shoot themselves in the foot.”
Wedd said a quick start and a good first quarter would go a long way toward helping the Lions end the season on a high note. Several of his players wholeheartedly agreed.
“It all starts in the first quarter, if we can come out in the first quarter and put up some points, then good things will come from that,” senior lineman Jay Baker said.
Added senior running back Tyrae Jenkins: “We’re both 0-8, and at Lawrence High we don’t finish in last place. I don’t care if it’s a one-point victory or a two-point victory, however it comes is fine with me. I just want a victory.”
Even if the Lions win, they’ll finish with the school’s worst record in the last 36 years, or since the 1973 edition went 1-8.