Not one Free State High football player nor any coach in the locker room felt even an ounce of contentment last Friday following the Firebirds’ 38-35 home loss to Olathe South. But head coach Bob Lisher learned a lot about his team in that Sunflower League battle.
“Our guys never gave up,” Lisher said. “They continued to fight. In order for us to be the type of team that we want to be, that’s what you want to see. We came up a little short, but there’s a lot of positives to take out of it.”
Positivity has reigned this week at practices, even as FSHS prepares for today’s 7 p.m. home game against Olathe North without injured free safety Joe Dineen.
Lisher said Free State has to tighten up some things on defense going forward and finish better on offense, but there were other intangibles that showed up when he reviewed last week’s game.
“We were able to execute,” Lisher said. “We were able to score when we needed to score and got back from a 21-7 deficit (FSHS took a 28-24 lead in the third quarter).”
Senior linebacker Corban Schmidt said the Firebirds have responded to last week’s loss by putting it behind them.
“We’ll worry about that when we play them again,” Schmidt said of O-South. “For now, we’re just worrying about O-North,”
The Eagles (0-3) have scored just 28 points this season, while Free State (2-1) has put up 33.3 points a game, led by dual-threat senior quarterback Kyle McFarland.
Schmidt said the Firebirds have focused on stopping O-North’s running game this week, because the other side of the ball has been less worrisome with McFarland, senior running back TJ Cobbs and senior receiver Tye Hughes helping FSHS score at a reliable rate.
“Basically, everything’s working on offense,” said Schmidt.
Junior linebacker Blake Winslow agreed that the FSHS defense has some work to do.
“Defensively, coaches have been much more on us this week, because we gave up quite a few rushing yards (378 versus Olathe South),” said Winslow, who also plays receiver. “It’s been a lot more intense.”
Lisher said defensive linemen Fred Wyatt, Riley Buller and Reid Buckingham are getting healed up, so that should help the defense, which will start sophomore Joel Spain at free safety in junior Dineen’s place.
According to Schmidt, Free State’s players learned a little about themselves last week, too. The next step is addressing their flaws.
“We can hang with any team and beat any team,” Schmidt said. “I personally think we should’ve beat Olathe South. We had the opportunities, and just didn’t get our defense to step up at the right times.”