Lawrence High’s football team makes fitting in replacement players look seamless.
Senior Wyatt Woods has done a solid job at center for senior Brady Murrish; junior Tyrone Jenkins stepped into the starting running-back role after the season-ending injury to senior Charles Jackson; and senior DeCorey Pittman disrupted plays behind the line of scrimmage for senior Jake Vinoverski last week.
Woods and Jenkins will have the same responsibilities as in previous games, but Pittman will have a more important role this week as LHS (4-2) visits the Olathe District Activity Center at 7 tonight to face Olathe North (5-1).
“This week we’re going to need for him to step up and improve from last week because the competition is going to be that much better,” LHS coach Dirk Wedd said of Pittman. “I have all the confidence in the world that he’ll do that.”
Vinoverski is out for another week as he continues to recover from a separated shoulder, so Pittman has the start again. Pittman’s first start was last week against Shawnee Mission South’s prolific running back, Gabe Guild. Guild rushed for 342 yards just a week before, and LHS held him to 186 yards on the ground.
That defensive performance, Pittman said, will translate to tonight’s game against the solid rushing attack of the Eagles.
“Knowing that we can stop a great back like that will give us even more confidence to stop the three or four good backs that they have,” he said.
O-North has a talented running back tag-team with seniors Treshawn Root and Orange Mooney, who Wedd said has Div. I talent. After O-North’s previous game, the Lions know those two backs can be stopped.
In a battle of unbeatens last week, Olathe South took apart O-North, 29-10, while holding Root and Mooney to less than 100 yards each. The Eagles will want to avenge that loss tonight, which makes them more of a threat, Pittman said.
Wedd said the recipe is for the Lions to play their best defense and continue being efficient on offense while not turning the ball over like they did last week. In other words, they have to play their best game of the season as district play starts.
“This will really be an indication of where we’re at,” Wedd said. “I think our kids are really up for a challenge.”
The Lions will be tested, but they will get some help, as Murrish returns to the field. Wedd said he won’t start this week, but Murrish will see some action along the offensive line to rest the starters.
Wedd wants all his players to be ready, which is why he tells his bench players that they are one snap away from being contributors. But Pittman has seen what has happened to his injured teammates.
As a senior, Pittman said he is blessed to be given an opportunity to perform, especially against a team where the Lions will need him to excel. He just doesn’t want it to end so soon.
“I know that each play could be my last,” Pittman said. “So I really look forward to each play, every drive. I don’t take anything for granted.”