High School Sports

High School Sports

Bittersweet beginning

Stadium debut generates buzz, but Lions fall in opener

Fans rise to their feet in the new football stadium as Lawrence High running back Tyrae Jenkins races down field for a touchdown against  Shawnee Mission North during the second quarter, Friday, Sept. 4, 2009 at Lawrence High School.

Fans rise to their feet in the new football stadium as Lawrence High running back Tyrae Jenkins races down field for a touchdown against Shawnee Mission North during the second quarter, Friday, Sept. 4, 2009 at Lawrence High School.

September 5, 2009


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LHS drops home opener

The Lawrence Lions opened their brand new stadium with a hard-fought loss to Shawnee Mission North. Enlarge video

As far as losses go, this was about as good as they come.

Friday night, in front of an energetic, overflow crowd at Lawrence High’s new, on-campus football stadium, the Lions fell to Shawnee Mission North, 17-14, on a Kyle Goodburn field goal with 30 seconds to play.

The opening game at the new venue provided a taste of just about everything Lawrence High fans have been accustomed to seeing throughout the years. Except a victory, of course.

With the west bleachers filled to capacity and more than 250 fans standing behind the south end zone — another 25-50 spectators stood outside the fence along 19th Street — the Lions played tough defense, holding the SMN offense to 235 total yards and turning the Indians away on three separate goal-line stands.

The Lions also ran the ball and ran the ball and ran the ball. Then they ran the ball some more, finishing the night with 232 yards on 41 carries.

Lastly, the Lions turned in the kind of never-say-die performance that the ghosts of LHS past could not help but be proud of. Unfortunately for the home team, the consolation prize in this hard-fought season opener was walking away encouraged about the jumping off point of the 2009 season.

“I love the way this team played tonight,” said LHS coach Dirk Wedd. “They showed a lot of heart.”

The fact that the final kick — a 24-yarder that would’ve been good from 35 — was enough to hand the Lions the loss left many in the home locker room hanging their heads. The early assessment after the game, however, was that there was very little to be down about.

For much of the game it was the younger Lions who controlled the pace of play. Offensively, LHS stuck with what has worked for the last 100 years, giving the Indians a heavy dose of the ground game to build leads of 7-0 and 14-7.

Senior tailback Tyrae Jenkins carried 16 times for 171 yards and two touchdowns. Of that total, 136 yards and both TDs came in the first half, as Jenkins scored from 29 and 79 yards out to give the Lions a 14-7 lead at the break.

“He’s pretty special,” Wedd said. “He runs hard and he has a huge heart.”

Both of Jenkins’ touchdown runs came after multiple SM North defenders made contact but did not wrap him up, leaving the senior speedster all alone in the open field to rumble into the end zone.

“Coach always says, ‘Keep your feet moving,’” Jenkins said. “I just tried to do that and then used my speed to break away.”

The Lions themselves tried to break away from the Indians several times throughout the night. But every time LHS seemed to be on the verge of taking control, their youth and inexperience bit them in the behind.

LHS fumbled four times, losing three of them. To compound those miscues, LHS twice surrendered back-breaking touchdowns after two of the three giveaways. North scored its first TD from a yard out after a fumble set the Indians up with a first-and-goal at the one. The Indians’ second TD of the night came when Goodburn hit Brandon Currie with a 19-yard TD pass on third-and-14 with 8:59 to play.

“We gave them 14 points off turnovers and then a blocked punt set up the game-winning field goal,” Wedd said. “You can’t do that and expect to win. Entering the game, we had five guys who had ever played on Friday nights. This was the first time for a lot of those kids. And it showed at times. But I’ll tell you what, they played hard. That wasn’t the issue. They wanted to kick this thing off the right way and they’re disappointed that they didn’t get it done.”

Afterwards, the Lions’ leaders talked about their first experience under the bright lights they now call home.

“We came out and played hard the whole game and we never gave up,” said junior quarterback Chris Gaston, who shared snaps with senior Chase Billings. “Our defense really impressed me and even though we lost, there’s not a lot to feel bad about.”

Added junior linebacker Darrin Sorem: “I think we answered a lot of our question marks tonight.”

Ultimately, it’s not the score or the specifics of this historic first game that will be remembered. It’s that it happened. And for a group of LHS football players, who took the field wearing helmets decorated by decals bearing the initials “BF” in memory of the late Bob Frederick, being out there for the school’s first true home contest — win or lose — was quite a thrill.

“I was pretty pumped up before we started,” Billings said. “I think that’s the greatest atmosphere I’ve ever played in.”


jhawkfan05 8 years, 6 months ago

Now that we have a new stadium let's get a new coach!! Would be nice to have a winning season....but that will never happen...Coach Wedd time for you to go...maybe retirement for you is in the near future..As long as we have him LHS will not have a good season!!

kujayhawk 8 years, 6 months ago

Wedd is a nice guy, but it's time to let somebody who can coach take over the program. As much as he's into the tradition at LHS, it's ironic he's destroying it.

cato_the_elder 8 years, 6 months ago

To the football geniuses who have felt the need to reveal their lack of character by posting on this forum, I would suggest that you reserve your criticisms until after the season has concluded. LHS had three turnovers, one of which cost them the game. In the meantime, the team north of 15th Street, which has a quarterback who is the greatest player ever to play there and a number of veteran starters, had five turnovers and lost 29-20 - so I assume that you will vilify their coach equally after his team's first game of the season. By the way, the current two best high school football programs in Kansas, Smith Center and Hutchinson (which laid 55 points last night on Rockhurst - yes, you read that correctly), each won last night by running the football.

just_another_bozo_on_this_bus 8 years, 6 months ago

It's not a problem with the coach. It's the players. They should all be expelled, and we should recruit players from other towns who will provide a much better football experience for us, which of course means winning football games by embarrassingly wide margins, along with state and national championships.

After spending all those $millions on a new football stadium, we should settle for nothing less.

puddleglum 8 years, 6 months ago

can't we just pay players instead of recruiting? then we can get some real offense

just_another_bozo_on_this_bus 8 years, 6 months ago

We can't pay players, but we can certainly provide them with dates with cheerleaders.

greenworld 8 years, 6 months ago

Nice new stadium, maybe to much focus on the stadium and not enough on winning the damn game

labmonkey 8 years, 6 months ago

One- what a waste of money....especially as schools are cutting back. Two- (and I don't know the situation) Perhaps the coach is also a good teacher. If that is so, then it would be stupid to fire him. Education should be top priority, Athletics a should be a distant second.

3up3down 8 years, 6 months ago

You might be able to call for Coach Wedd's head, but just remember one thing. Ron Commons is going to retire soon. Guess who the choice for AD is going to be? You guessed it. They will promote from within. Wedd will be your new AD and will still have his fingers in the football program. The Al Woolard days are gone Coach. Time to modernize. I was at the game last night and almost every called play was predictable. Hank Booth summed it up well when we listened to the game on KLWN. "It was like they were putting up a sign telling the defense where the ball was going." Predictable, predictable, predictable. Fire him, fire him, fire him.

just_another_bozo_on_this_bus 8 years, 6 months ago

I think it should be mandated by district policy that LHS win the LHS-FSHS game in odd years, and FSHS win in even years.

jonas_opines 8 years, 6 months ago

cato_the_elder (Anonymous) says…

"To the football geniuses who have felt the need to reveal their lack of character by posting on this forum"

Man, remove "football" and you have one of the most ironic posts today, I bet.

cato_the_elder 8 years, 6 months ago

With particular reference to your own posts, Jonas.

3up3down 8 years, 6 months ago

Kids talk. Siblings talk. Enough words filter down about Wedd and no wonder why nobody wants to play. He constantly yells at them. He plays favorites. I know this for a fact watching practices, and speaking to those close to the program. Finally the principal stepped in this year to curb his profane tongue. He has the most foul mouth of any coach I know. F this and F that and F the other. There is no place in athletics for this continual belittling of players. Let's switch ends of Lawrence. Why is it that there is no sophomore football this year? They could not field enough kids to have a sophomore team. Why is that? Surely with three junior highs feeding FSHS, they could find enough to field a team. Maybe that head coach is not quite the angel either.

greenworld 8 years, 6 months ago

Not to change the subject but speaking of LHS favoritism I believe the Basketball coach either resigned or was fired as in Coach Davis and that could be the best thing that ever happened. I recall two of the best kids in the school in basketball he never played, one led the state in 3-pointers and the other was pretty talented both who were black. The five other starters, five white kids that sucked. (except David Freeman) I dont know, you figure it out, the writing is on the wall at this place.

cato_the_elder 8 years, 6 months ago

3up3down, your implication that "nobody wants to play" is complete BS. You would be unwise to make that statement in the presence of any of the young men playing for LHS right now, who are busting their butts, as they did Friday night, to win. Yes, there will always be certain kids, especially when the fires are fueled by self-centered helicopter parents, who may not want to play a particular sport for any number of reasons. That may not be acceptable to Dad, who starred in 8-man football back in the day in Western Kansas, so the head coach gets the blame whatever the sport. Your comment about the other school also demonstrates that you don't know the facts, which are that in recent years the numbers have favored that school, in part because of what can most charitably be termed "parental creative boundary line avoidance" perpetrated by parents who have been enabled by a weak-kneed central school administration. This year, however, the sophomore football numbers at LHS are huge. Conversely, I have heard that there are only about twelve sophomores out for football at the other school, and I can tell you assuredly that it's not due to their head football coach, who does a superlative job. The root cause of your concern is one thing only: Splitting Lawrence High School and creating a boundary line. Whether everyone respects the boundary line rules or not, year in and year out you're never going to have the built-in equity in any endeavor that we had with one high school.

greenworld 8 years, 6 months ago

Here is the reality of what's going on at LHS regarding football. One-Lawrence got smaller talent wise when there became two high schools and the Olathe schools got better during this period. Two-The Bill Freeman winning tradition carried on for years and now has ended. Olathe is way ahead of Lawrence because there kids are using creatine and other stuff to make them bigger, stronger, and faster. Lawrence kids are starting to feel the heat because they are being taught at a young age that it's not okay to lose and everything is always about winning. When you can go back to teaching these kids the basics of football and not run them into the ground with the whole WIN-WIN-WIN-WIN I think you will start to see some change.

Clickker 8 years, 6 months ago

There is nothing wrong with running the football. You win games with Defense, and if LHS shores that up they will be fine. On offense, they need to spread it out a little and get some of thier speedy running backs in space. The Freeman teams utilized the I formation and threw a ton of screen passes and draw plays to get their speedy RB's in the open. Also, SMN figured out at halftime to spread the field out agaisnt LHS...LHS mad no adjustments, and as SMN kept 8 in the box, we continued to run off tackle dive plays.

SMNBoss 8 years, 6 months ago

I disagree with this article when it says Lawrence "controlled the pace of play". SMN had two touchdowns taken away from them because of controversial calls from the refs. The two times Lawrence scored were by plays in which the defense took a play off and missed tackles, and other than that the defense contained Lawrence. Lawrence didn't cross the fifty during the second half until the end of the game when they completed a pass because SMN's defense was playing their cover 4 prevent defense. I know this may be a biased article but for anyone who went to the game it was obvious who controlled the play.

Clickker 8 years, 6 months ago

Not sure what "controversial calls" you are speaking of. The pass in the end zone clearly hit the ground ( watch the replay on channel 6). The only real bad call I saw was the pass interference that wasnt...it was a good defensive play and that led directly to a SMN tying TD. Lawrence controlled the game in the first half..SMN made half time adjustments and mostly controlled the 2nd half.

SMNBoss 8 years, 6 months ago

What about the fumbled punt that SMN scored on and the referees said you can't advance a muffed punt. Even though he had control of it and even took three steps before fumbling. And when SMN converted on fourth down for a first the refs said we had to many men in the backfield, a call that was reviewed by the coaches and sent it to the officials because it was obvious we were in the correct formation.

Clickker 8 years, 6 months ago

He was bobbling the punt for 3 steps...he never had control. Watch it again..they made the right call. The big call was that phantom pass interference. That doesnt happen, and LHS basically runs out the clock.

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