If Lawrence High’s football team wants to extend its four-game winning streak tonight against Olathe Northwest, coach Dirk Wedd knows the Lions’ defense must play a starring role.
The Ravens (3-4) might be eighth in the Sunflower League standings, but they are third in scoring, averaging 33 points an outing — a number that might have been higher had senior quarterback Dalton Rook not missed Northwest’s 20-14 loss to Free State on Oct. 13 because of an injury.
“It’s gonna be a game where we’ve got to control them offensively to win,” Wedd said.
And there is more to the ONW attack than Rook, who is expected to play tonight. Senior wide receiver Willie Cauley and senior running back Connor Middleton, Wedd said, have him just as worried.
“To a certain extent, you’ve got to kind of pick your poison and hope it doesn’t kill you,” the LHS coach said of the Lions’ defensive approach entering the 7 p.m. game at LHS Stadium.
That doesn’t mean the Lions feel hopeless, though. Not only does Lawrence (5-2) have the firepower (averaging 30 points a game) to score with ONW, but its defense is holding opponents to an average of 16 points.
While LHS senior left guard Joe Odrowski said the offensive line plans to do its part in protecting and opening holes for quarterback Brad Strauss and running back Tyrone Jenkins, he said he has confidence the Lawrence defense can go out and slow down the ONW offense.
Odrowski said the defense has been preparing all week for the Ravens’ high-powered attack, and he expects the Lions’ defense to keep doing what it has done all season long — deliver big hits.
“We hit them hard every single play,” Odrowski said of the defense’s approach. “I trust the defense to hold them.”
Getting a win will be important, Wedd said, because it is Lawrence’s only district game at home. The Lions are 3-0 at home so far this season and 2-2 on the road.
“We’ve been a really good road team, but it’s pretty special to play at home in front of your peers,” he said. “And we need to put a good show on.”
“Every game at home is always important to us, especially on Senior Night,” the senior lineman said. “It’s really important for us to go out and show them what Lawrence High’s about.”