Leavenworth Free State High football coach Bob Lisher knows Leavenworth High will be ready to celebrate before a single down is even played tonight.
The 7 p.m. battle between the Firebirds (1-0) and Pioneers (0-1) marks the first game at the brand new — and on-campus — Pioneer Stadium. A dedication ceremony will take place before kickoff.
“This is their grand opening. They’re going to have a ribbon cutting, cannons going off, they’re going to have a parachute people dropping the game ball,” Lisher said.
Lisher envisions that same excitement to carry over to the field, where he expects his team to spoil the event.
“Leavenworth is going to be pretty excited. Their community will be there, so our kids have to match that,” he said. “Hopefully we don’t let them live that dream very long.”
Lisher had a few questions about his group heading into last week’s opener, namely whether a slew of mostly inexperienced upperclassmen could effectively replace last season’s talented senior class.
His doubts were quelled somewhat after last week’s 42-23 victory over Olathe South in which the new group of seniors proved they were more than up to task.
Two-way standouts Dylan Perry (quarterback/cornerback) and Preston Schenck (running back/linebacker), who amassed a combined six touchdowns, were only two of said seniors that made the most of their first varsity start.
“I thought last week we played with very good effort and intensity,” Lisher said. “We want to combine that with improvement on offense, defense and special teams, as far as assignments and fundamentals. There’s a lot of things that we can do better.”
Much of which Lisher felt would come with increased reps at the varsity level.
“Mainly, I just think it was due to it being their first game,” Lisher said. “A lot of these guys don’t have a lot of varsity experience. They have that underclassmen experience, but it’s a whole different ballgame under the lights on Friday night.”
The Pioneers suffered a season-opening 41-6 thumping at Lawrence High last week.
“I tell our guys all the time, good teams don’t worry about who they’re playing, or where they are playing — they just show up to get better,” Lisher said. “They practice to get better, so on Friday nights they play to get better.”
All indications are, Lisher and the Firebirds have spent all week doing just that.
“It doesn’t make any difference who you’re playing,” Lisher said. “What makes a difference is how you work during that week in preparation.”