It is Free State High football coach Bob Lisher’s job to have his team prepared to win each and every week.
Sometimes human nature takes over and certain games seem more important than others. The anticipation for the Firebirds’ home opener tonight at 7 has that kind of feel, because of who’s coming to town.
“Just like any week, you do your best to win,” Lisher said. “Olathe South’s a little bit bigger name because they won the state championship last year.”
The Falcons lost some of their most talented skill position players to graduation but the 2011 Class 6A champs still have senior quarterback Frank Seurer, blue chip junior offensive tackle Braden Smith, a 2-0 record and are considered by most coaches to be one of the state’s top teams.
O-South likes to pull the 6-foot-6, 285-pound Smith and run behind him, so the Firebirds (2-0) know to expect a challenge.
Starting FSHS defensive linemen Cody Stanclift, Riley Buller and Fred Wyatt have been banged up this week and limited at practices, but junior defensive end Zach Bickling said the unit will be ready for the challenge.
“We’ve gotta establish the line so they don’t get a good push on us,” Bickling said.
Junior linebacker Keith Loneker said the FSHS defensive front has freed up the linebackers the past two weeks and that will need to happen again against O-South. The defense isn’t satisfied, Loneker added, with its first two performances, even though the opposition has produced just 14 total points.
“We’re getting a lot of picks (four), a lot of turnovers (six), but we’ve definitely got a lot of room to improve,” Loneker said, “which says a lot about our defense.”
The O-South defense has yielded just 13 points this season. The Falcons will have to contend with Free State’s offense, which features dual-threat senior quarterback Kyle McFarland, as well as senior running back TJ Cobbs and senior receiver Tye Hughes. All three have been among the most productive Sunflower League players at their positions.