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Free State football prepares for match-up against Shawnee Mission Northwest

September 23, 2011

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Coming off another close win last week, Free State High football coach Bob Lisher has stressed the same thing in practice this week as he has all season to prepare for tonight’s match-up against Shawnee Mission Northwest — increasing his team’s physicality.

“We have numerous drills that the kids absolutely love that we do weekly ... chute drills, board drills, things like that,” Lisher said.

Cutting down on mistakes has been another goal for the Firebirds. Lisher said he saw improvement from that aspect this week.

“Wednesday’s practice was one of our better practices as far as schemes, as far as execution and getting off the ball,” he said. “Everything looked much sharper, like we’re starting to have a better understanding of what needs to be done. Hopefully that carries into Friday night’s game.”

The Firebirds faced the challenge of the Sunflower League’s leading rusher against Leavenworth last Friday. SMNW was a little harder to scout, as the Cougars have battled injuries to the point of being down to their fourth-string running back last week.

“We’re not concentrating on one person in particular, but our main thing is to be physical up front so whoever they have at the running back position, we’re able to get off blocks and make tackles,” Lisher said.

Free State has battled injury woes of its own, playing without senior running back Shawn Knighton last week. Knighton will be back in the starting lineup tonight.

Junior quarterback Kyle McFarland also mentioned SMNW’s strength of controlling the line of scrimmage.

“They’ve got some big defensive linemen. They’re pretty physical, but not as fast as the last few teams we’ve played,” McFarland said.

McFarland threw for four touchdowns last week but still found areas to improve on during practice this week.

“I tried to focus on hitting my targets more and being more accurate,” McFarland said.

“Our line is picking up all their blocks, usually, and our receivers are staying on blocks. As quarterbacks we’re making better reads now,” McFarland said.

The Firebirds kick off at 7 tonight at Free State High School.

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