High School Sports

High School Sports

Lawrence High football team making sacrifices

August 24, 2010


The sun was shining in every way Monday afternoon during football practice at Lawrence High.

Chris Gaston, a senior who last year was the quarterback, learned that he would be playing elsewhere, at slot receiver, making way for talented newcomer Bradley Strauss, a sophomore. Rather than sulk, Gaston’s chin was where every good golfer’s should remain throughout the swing. It was up and still. Gaston sounded like a senior leader, ready to have the back of every teammate, especially underclassmen finding their way.

“I’m a little disappointed, but I’ll do whatever I can to help the team,” Gaston said. “(Strauss) has proven himself pretty well so far. I don’t think we’ll have any problems. He’ll be in a huddle full of seniors, but I think he’ll be able to handle it. If I have to step in and say something to help him, I will, but I really don’t think we’ll have any problems.”

Tall, fast and blessed with a strong arm, Strauss ran for two touchdowns and threw for another in a Lions’ intrasquad scrimmage Saturday.

“He’s a natural quarterback,” Gaston said. “He throws well, he’s athletic and he can run.”

It didn’t take hearing the team-first words uttered by Gaston to notice signs of sacrifice in the proud program coming off an atypical 1-8 season. All it took was one look at Jamal Brown, the senior right tackle/nose guard.

Brown, who said his weight peaked at 390 pounds when he had surgery on his foot, has lost more than 50 pounds and it shows. He said he misses “fast food in general,” but not enough to jeopardize his team’s chances of improving by going back to eating it.

Brown took instruction from the same man who used to help his father with his conditioning. Gilbert Brown, a former Green Bay Packers nose tackle who was a Big Eight all-academic selection when at Kansas, sought the help of his KU strength and conditioning coach Fred Roll throughout his pro career.

Roll, who has worked with Lawrence High players during summers, was instrumental in helping Gilbert’s son Jamal give himself a better shot at a big senior year.

“During the summer, I worked out twice a day, once on Fridays and Saturdays, and Sunday was my chill day,” Jamal Brown said.

LHS coach Dirk Wedd said he plans to use Brown both ways. The numbers on Brown’s scale are down and Wedd is just as pleased that the number of bodies in the program is up, all the way up to 115.

Last season, the Lions had to go into overtime of their final game to get a victory, against Leavenworth, against which the Lions open the season, Sept. 3 at LHS.

“We’re really eager for the season to start,” Gaston said. “We’re picking up right where we left off, playing Leavenworth, and they’ll be looking for revenge.”

For the second year, the Lions have their own on-campus football field on which to practice and play games. Bathrooms are under construction and the press box isn’t quite completed, but it feels like home to the team.

“I’m loving it,” Jamal Brown said. “People say, ‘Free State has this,’ and ‘Free State has that.’ I’m loving what we have. It’s all our own and that’s something we’ve never had.”


Clickker 7 years, 10 months ago

I watched a little of the scrimmage..I cant beleive the kid is a Soph. Was he the kid from Southwest? or did he come from somewhere else.

Kash_Encarri 7 years, 10 months ago

Brad went to South.

He's a hell of an all around athlete too. It would be a toss up between him and the Willoughby kid right now as far as better all around athlete.

This could easily be the year that the Lions get back on top of Free State in football. The kids that I know certainly busted their backsides this summer, while many of the Free State kids couldn't/wouldn't even do a full Red Dog workout.

Clickker 7 years, 10 months ago

I think the Willoughbie kid decided not to go out for FB. He is a baseball player

Kash_Encarri 7 years, 10 months ago

He played the three big sports last year, same as Strauss.

Shane is "thicker" than Brad who is taller. IMHO, Brad is more of a leader. I also think he's a more talented baseball player than Shane, but Shane is more in tune with the game (and he has a little more pop in his bat.)

Either way the Firebirds are gonna have their hands full the next three/four years as these Sophomores and Freshmen move through LHS.

Oldman99 7 years, 10 months ago

Wow Jamal 390 pounds? Good luck with that

hail2oldku 7 years, 10 months ago

I think Brad's dad Mike was featured about a month ago in a story about the transplant games.

Homey 7 years, 10 months ago

Gaston is a class act from a great family. Go Lions!

mr_moon 7 years, 10 months ago

--giving up the starting qb position after going 1-8... --giving up fast food after weighing 390 lbs... now those are some serious sacrifices.

KULHSLIONSfan 7 years, 10 months ago

Our 1-8 record was due to poor coaching, putting players in the wrong positions and not believing in the underclassmen until there was no choice due to injuries. I hope the coaches will believe in the skills of more of the boys instead of picking their few favorite projected psuperstars and playing them every down. Hopefully coach has realized how terrible the offense was and part of what lead to the dismal season and Brad can help turn things around. Of course the defense hasn't been any good since coach Green took it over and that is another issue that won't change. I hope this year the coaches treat their players with respect stop the derogatory comments and insults. Mike Leach and Coach Mangino has nothing on a couple of our coaches.

eastsidepride 7 years, 10 months ago

RIGHT ON KULHSLION FAN!!!!! You nailed that one on the head! Many boys are being overlooked do to the "Few Favorites" .... And the coaches could use some respect lessons!

Gregory Newman 7 years, 10 months ago

What do you expect? He wasn't a good player or a good sport when we were team mates. Better get a genie lamp cause it ain't hapnin

kujhawk 7 years, 10 months ago

Hey grandma I played at LHS back in the day when we won state every year and I wasn't beat up and I'm sure the coaches weren't either. These kids need to learn what it takes to win a state championship, sacrifice, hard work, and sometimes a little a!! chewing!

formerlhsplayer 7 years, 10 months ago

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LHS_Lions_013 7 years, 10 months ago

Just for clarification, Shane did not go out for football. Honestly, Shane is a better baseball player and Brad (being one of my bestfriends) he would say the same. Also, don't expect anything near a 1-8 season this year.

Hop2It 7 years, 10 months ago

Hear there are some big changes with LHS soccer, too. New coach, new year, new fields....

DVine_23 7 years, 10 months ago

Brad is the rawwwest man in the game. He is a great athlete and he's about to turn this program around. I wish him good luck and I hope everything goes great for him, and if your reading this Brad see ya next hour dude.

                                                                                                                       -Daniel Vineyard

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