Lawrence High’s defensive football players know all about Gabe Guild.
They’ve seen the Shawnee Mission South senior running back’s speed and powerful bursts on film. Not that they had forgotten Guild rushed for 186 yards against the Lions last season.
As LHS prepares to face Guild — the Sunflower League’s leading rusher at 1,038 yards and eight touchdowns — again at 7 tonight at Shawnee Mission South District Stadium, the Lions (4-1) know exactly what is coming at them. The question is: Can they stop Guild?
Senior Erick Mayo, an LHS starting corner back, said when Guild tries to break a run to the outside, the LHS secondary must force him back inside toward the linebackers.
And while the defenders know what the Raiders (3-2) plan to do most of the night, that doesn’t mean it will be easy for LHS, leading the league in total defense (247.8 yards a game) but eighth in rushing defense, yielding 202 yards a game on the ground.
“There’s always a challenge,” Mayo said, “because he’s such a good running back, and he runs really hard. We have to be ready to stop him.”
Lawrence’s other starting corner, senior Will Thompson, said wrapping up and making tackles will be as important as ever against the 5-foot-11, 190-pound SMS running back, who is averaging 7.3 yards a carry. Guild has made his reputation by breaking tackles.
“He’s a real powerful back, and we’re a real good defense,” Thompson said. “Once we stop the running back, we’re gonna see what they have after the running back. And we hope that’s what can win us a game.”
Lions coach Dirk Wedd acknowledged Guild’s greatness, but he and the rest of his staff are concerned about SMS quarterback Jon Preuter, after he threw the ball effectively in a 28-17 loss to Shawnee Mission West last week.
“That really opens up a whole different can of worms,” Wedd said.
Still, there is some good news for Lawrence. Senior lineman Art Hall, junior lineman Matt Weiss and senior running back Tyrone Jenkins are expected to be available off the bench after missing time because of injuries.
Plus, LHS senior quarterback Brad Struass leads the league in total offense — 1,486 yards, 11 passing touchdowns, eight rushing touchdowns. And Thompson (380 receiving yards), Mayo (281) and Drake Hofer (255) are all among the league’s top 10 receivers.