Free State senior Preston Schenck estimated that he hasn’t played quarterback since middle school — which has mattered little for the Firebirds’ standout running back/linebacker.
Free State at Shawnee Mission North
When: 7 tonight
Where: Shawnee Mission North District Stadium
Records: Free State 2-1; SM North 0-3
That might change tonight though, as the Firebirds will likely be without starting quarterback Dylan Perry, who is “very, very questionable” with a sprained ankle.
If Perry is unable to play, Schenck will be under center for the Firebirds (2-1) when they face Shawnee Mission North (0-3) at 7 p.m.
Though Perry attended practice on Tuesday and was in pads for Wednesday’s practice, coach Bob Lisher said his quarterback’s ankle was still very sore.
Lisher was quick to add that, if necessary, Schenck was more than capable of stepping in and producing.
“Preston’s played quarterback before, and we worked him at quarterback at camp this summer, so he’s got some experience there,” he said.
It’ll be tough to match Perry’s eye-popping offensive numbers though.
In the Firebirds three games so far, the dual-threat quarterback has thrown for 391 yards and two touchdowns while racking up 429 yards on the ground with four more scores.
But if anyone can fill in for Perry at the helm of Free State’s option-heavy offense, it’s Schenck.
“It’s been a few years since I’ve played quarterback, so it’s going to be different, but I think we’ll try to keep things pretty simple. I wouldn’t try to do anything I’m not capable of doing, and I don’t think coach would put me in that position,” Schenck said.
Schenck has been solid out of the backfield with 258 yards and three TDs. He also just might be the most dangerous Firebird in open field, having scampered for return touchdowns of 40, 44, 45 and 94 yards.
The senior has proven he can run the ball, but how’s his arm?
“Well I’ve been throwing the last few days,” said Schenck, who’s also a standout on the baseball team. “Throwing a football is a lot different from throwing a baseball, but it’s been all right. Better than I expected it to be.”
Some of Schenck’s teammates hinted that he might be being a bit modest.
“I actually was kind of surprised when he started throwing passes the other day. I figured he’d be kind of sketchy, but he was actually dropping dimes,” senior offensive/defensive lineman Justin McCandless said.
McCandless said the offense would undoubtedly miss Perry if he’s unable to play, but he’s also confident Schenck can handle the quarterbacking duties.
“Instead of Dylan handing the ball off to Preston, I think Preston will just keep the ball a lot and run it anyways,” McCandless said.
Still, offensive production wasn’t enough to earn the Firebirds a victory last week.
Despite outgaining Shawnee Mission West 452 to 128 in total offense — 377 of which contributed by Perry — special teams miscues ultimately cost Free State the game.
“I think our guys understand what they did on Friday night, and that’s dominate a team and lose,” coach Lisher said. “You don’t want to learn from a loss, obviously, but I think the kids understand what kind of team we can have, and if we eliminate the mistakes, what kind of team we will have — so there are definitely some positives to take out of it.”
Regardless of who takes the snaps for the Firebirds, it’s solid and consistent play that will earn them a victory against SM North.
“We were winning the whole game, it was our game to win,” Schenck said. “We know we can compete with anyone, we’ve just got to learn how to minimize some of those mistakes and close those games out.”