Lions inspired by latest loss

? A victory in the regular-season finale would have meant a lot of things to Lawrence High football: a share of the Sunflower League championship, a district title, bragging rights over rival Free State and an opening-round home playoff game.

Coming off a 28-14 loss to FSHS last week, the Lions aren’t interested in what might have been. LHS senior lineman Kharon Brown said there are positives he and his teammates took from that setback, and they hope to use those to the best of their ability starting at 7 tonight, when they open the postseason at Gardner-Edgerton. The game will be televised live by KSMO (Knology Cable channels 3 and 203).

The Lions (7-2) could be aided this week from the experience they gained dealing with a similarly disappointing loss in the season opener.

“It was just like when we lost to Shawnee Mission West,” Brown said. “We had great aspirations. We wanted to go undefeated.”

From that point, Brown said LHS knew it had to beat every team it played, and the Lions won seven games in a row — the program’s longest streak since 1996. They would love to go on a similar run in the Class 6A playoffs.

Senior linebacker Drew Green said the Lions are a competitive bunch, and they’re looking forward to getting back on track against the Trailblazers (6-3).

“Nobody’s any type of satisfied with the game we played (last) Friday,” Green said.

Particularly troublesome, LHS coach Dirk Wedd pointed out, was Free State’s ability to harass senior quarterback Brad Strauss (Sunflower League-leading 2,469 total yards this season and 33 total touchdowns) in the backfield.

“We’ve known all along that our Achilles’ heel was up front offensively,” Wedd said, “and they exposed us.”

Without Strauss or senior running back Tyrone Jenkins (combined 44 yards on 24 carries) able to produce much on the ground, Wedd said Lawrence’s passing game took a hit, too, and the Lions can’t afford to have a similar night at GEHS.

Brown said the Lions were playing great before the loss to Free State, and they can get back to that.

“I think this just refocuses us and lets us know we’re not invincible,” Brown said, “so we can’t take plays off, can’t take anything for granted.”

Gardner-Edgerton has won five straight games, led by junior running back Traevohn Wrench (1,940 rushing yards, 21 touchdowns) and is coached by Marvin Diener, who won six 5A state championships at Salina Central.

Diener, in his seventh season at Gardner, said his team is much improved since its 1-3 start.

“There’s gonna be a very good football team eliminated (tonight),” the GEHS coach said. “One or the other.”