No shortage of celebrities spent a pleasant Friday night in Lawrence High’s snazzy, second-year football stadium Friday.
George Brett, the greatest third baseman of all-time, watched his two sons, senior Dylan and sophomore Robin Brett, Shawnee Mission East teammates to Norm Stewart’s two grandsons, juniors Sam and David Stewart. A few spectators said they saw the former Missouri basketball coach in the stands, but didn’t ask how he felt about his old school’s relentless conference flirting.
In keeping with the celebrity theme, Lawrence High junior quarterback Brad Strauss was on the field, darting through the defense and breaking away from it on his way to 192 rushing yards and 186 yards through the air.
At the other end of the spectrum, five young men who don’t need to stay at hotels under assumed names did their part to ensure the spotlight stayed on the gifted quarterback Strauss and replacement running back Tyrone Jenkins, a junior.
From left tackle to right tackle, their names: Blake Hocking, Joe Odrowski, Wyatt Woods, Kharon Brown and Sean Thomas. With the exception of Brown, they’re all seniors. So is center Brady Murrish, back for a couple of snaps Friday from an injury he said should not keep him from full-time duty next week.
In the wake of a 31-0 thrashing of a Shawnee Mission East squad playing without its suspended star receiver, the Lawrence linemen were given a chance to hog credit during post-game interviews. Candor and humility prevented that.
“He does most of the work,” Woods said, nodding toward Strauss. “We just have to block a couple of seconds and he’s gone. It’s not really that hard.”
Chimed in Odrowski: “He’s quicker than quick. He gets really fast, really fast.”
Said Brown: “He makes us look a lot better than we are.”
These guys desperately need to refine their self-promotion skills. Oh well, at least they say nice things about each other when they aren’t chewing out a line mate for getting flagged for illegal motion or holding.
“Kharon’s the smallest, but he’s the biggest eater,” said Thomas, the dashing one of the bunch. “He’s the loudest and he’s the strongest. We call him 50 Tyson.”
“Because he looks like Mike Tyson and the rapper, 50 Cent,” Thomas said.
Unlike those two celebrities, Brown isn’t washed-up. And he knows how to compensate for his lack of size playing both sides of the line. He registered his 6-yard sack by jumping up and onto the quarterback, not exactly how it’s taught, but it worked.
Thomas said Brown is, “small with a big heart. He’s like a Chihuahua.”
Hocking, the state-champion shot-putter, is out for varsity football for the first time.
“A lot of people wanted me to come out and I wanted to come out to win a state title,” Hocking said.
The Lions (3-2) aren’t playing like state champions, but Friday was another forward step and other than the five flags, the LHS blockers delivered.
“It’s kind of a hodge-podge of kids,” LHS coach Dirk Wedd said of the O-line. “They all have different personalities and it’s amazing how they balance each other out.”