Asked about tonight’s opponent, Shawnee Mission North, Free State head football coach Bob Lisher had one word that best described the Indians.
“Big,” Lisher said. “It’s the usual Shawnee Mission North team. They’re very big.”
Kickoff is 7 tonight at Free State’s stadium.
The Indians bring to town linemen on both sides who, on average, weigh in around 260 pounds.
“We can’t match them size-wise, so we have to play hard. We have to be more physical and overcome some of that by just being quicker. It’s one of those games where you have to be solid in everything you do, or one of those guys can get loose and make a big run,” Lisher said. “We tell our guys up front if they’re getting double-teamed, that’s good. If they’re not getting double-teamed, they need to make the tackle”
The team has cut down on the mistakes that plagued it at the beginning of the year and is taking fewer reps in practice after getting it right the first time, according to Lisher.
“When you do that you know, your team, assignment-wise and execution-wise, is improving,” Lisher said. “It’s becoming more and more of the norm.”
The Firebirds will also look to running back Shawn Knighton for another big game. He racked up 116 yards on the ground on 15 carries last week against Shawnee Mission Northwest and added his first two touchdowns of the season.
Lisher credits Knighton’s weekly improvement at running back simply to getting back in the groove of the position. Knighton, a senior, played at tailback his sophomore year, but was needed at slot receiver last year. He’s embraced the switch back and, quite literally, ran with it.
“He did a good job last week of making one cut and getting downhill quick,” Lisher said. “When he does that, he’s pretty effective.
Knighton agreed the Firebirds’ success would start up front.
“Our line is going to have to come out and work hard like they did last week,” Knighton said.