The Lawrence High football coaching staff and student section won’t be wearing their traditional red for tonight’s game against Olathe North.
Instead, the students and coaches will don a lighter shade — pink — in honor of National Breast Cancer Awareness Month. Lawrence coach Dirk Wedd’s wife Junior found out she had breast cancer about two years ago and is in the remission stage, so the game holds a little more significance for Dirk.
“Once you go through it with her, you know what cancer is and how devastating it is,” Dirk said.
The LHS Student Council promoted the event, which is also being held in honor of popular teacher Shannon Wilson, who has the disease. Wedd, playing off the black-out mandates popular across the country, said they’re having a “pink-out.”
On the field, the Lions will again look to their senior leaders to pull an upset victory against another speedy team from Olathe — this time Olathe North. Kickoff is 7 p.m. at the LHS football stadium.
An alarming injury bug has struck the senior class, but Wedd is proud of how the players dealt with the adversity.
“The seniors have shown these kids about making a commitment to Lawrence High football, whether it’s Friday night or during the week,” Wedd said. “It’s opened some eyes with some of our young guys as far as what it takes to win.”
For whatever reason, LHS can’t stop a rash of injuries. Junior running back Charles Jackson will miss the game with a hip pointer, senior wide receiver Aaron Gile will sit out with a broken wrist and senior lineman Jamal Brown will stay on the sidelines with knee issues. Brown had the knee drained on Monday. Wedd expects him to return in a week or two.
Strauss said the team definitely notices the seniors’ presence at practices.
“It shows us how much they care about it,” Strauss said. “It just makes us want to play harder for them and see if we can make their senior year special for them.”
Wedd said that Strauss has taken on the responsibility of leading the football team from the quarterback position but isn’t the lone man at the top.
“This is the seniors’ football team and they’ve accepted him with open arms, which I would too if I were them,” Wedd said. “In the same sense, he knows his place and it’s really been fun watching how he’s matured.”
That maturity will be especially important with all the new players dotting the field. Wedd is excited to see how his team deals with all the adversity in its first game of district play.
“I think at one time we were a really good football team,” Wedd said. “I think the first five weeks were pretty good. Last week we didn’t play well for a number of reasons.”
Playing well is Wedd’s ultimate goal, but he is certainly worried about Olathe North’s speed and overall talent. The Eagles’ lone loss came at the hands of Olathe East, a team Lawrence upset two weeks ago.
Strauss said he knew the game will be tough, but an added sense of urgency may help the Lions.
“This is pretty much when the season starts,” Pope said. “Everything has been built up to playing good now.”