High School Sports

High School Sports

High school notebook: FSHS football mixing it up

August 20, 2013


If anything slows down Free State High football practice this week, it might be the team’s new offensive assignments. Coach Bob Lisher said the Firebirds have some new wrinkles on defense, too, but those are minimal compared to the other side of the line of scrimmage.

“We’re asking our receivers to play in the backfield, play at receiver — they’ve got a lot of things to know,” Lisher said. “But it’s not like we threw it all at them on Day 1. They’ve had all summer to get it down.”

When breakdowns occur, Lisher wants them resolved quickly so the team can maximize what it accomplishes before the season kicks off Sept. 6 at home, against Shawnee Mission North.

Free State’s players will go through their first trial run during a scrimmage at 11 a.m. Saturday.

Almost real football

As excited as Lawrence football coach Dirk Wedd was to start practice this week, he and his staff just want to get the first few days over with, so the Lions can get to Thursday and wear full pads.

“We’ve got a whole bunch of guys running around in pajamas,” Wedd said of the first three practice days. “We won’t know anything until the end of the week.”

LHS will have a team scrimmage Saturday at approximately 1 p.m.

Cuts coming

The volleyball and boys soccer programs at both Free State and Lawrence experienced such high numbers of students trying out this week that coaches will have to make cuts in the coming days.

FSHS volleyball coach Nancy Hopkins said while she could have determined the varsity roster by Tuesday, tryouts extend to today to figure out which players comprise the sub-varsity teams. LHS volleyball coach Stephanie Magnuson said tryouts might end today or Thursday, depending on the difficulty of the coaches’ decisions.

Hopkins said Free State can offer 40 to 42 roster spots, but 54 girls are trying out.

“I don’t think I’ve ever had to cut that many,” she said.

Free State boys soccer coach Kelly Barah said roughly 80 players are vying for spots and cuts will come today, before the Firebirds get to their regular practice routine Thursday.

Lawrence soccer coach Mike Murphy said students who didn’t play last year are trying out, as well as 27 freshmen. Because many made it to summer workouts, Murhpy at least isn’t seeing many of the players for the first time, as tryouts ended Tuesday.

“It’s a tough situation,” Murphy said. “There’s good and bad. It’s great to have good numbers, but cuts are never good.”


Shelley Bock 4 years, 10 months ago

Why do the high schools have only 3 teams, Varsity, JV and C teams for soccer, but then have 4 teams for football? Soccer has comparable numbers to football. Cutting players when there is interest just doesn't seem reasonable, unless football were to do the same. Some Sunflower League teams have as many as 5 separate soccer teams.

Why the difference?

dougmarshall 4 years, 10 months ago

Football is (besides the constant movement of soccer) a much more physical sport, more injuries, etc. Therefor, the team needs the numbers to compete, so they don't cut. If it is a budget issue, the soccer program should raise money like baseball, softball and other under-funded sports do. If it is an interest issue, just look in the stands on Friday nights compared to a soccer game, that will give you your answer.

Shelley Bock 4 years, 10 months ago

Thanks dougmarsahll for a straight forward reply. I do acknowledge that football involves a far higher degree of physical contact and as a result, there are more injuries. Local high school soccer programs have worked now for decades raising money by various methods for their programs, but this is to augment the soccer budget, not to fund a separate team with coach, uniforms and equipment.

Friday night football is a tradition. When you go to the games, watch how many follow the game versus socialize with their friends. Yes, many in the community go for the game, but that is changing. Go to LHS versus Free State game sometime. If soccer games were played on Friday nights, especially girls, attendance would be up.

My concern is that athletics is meant to be participatory. If credible students/atheltes are cut from the team, there aren't any alternatives where they can practice and be productive during the season. Students involved in athletics are generally better students and better citizens outside of the school environment.

Finally, other than band, the soccer programs at both local public high schools, boys and girls, exceed all other sports in number of participants. Football is smaller.

dougmarshall 4 years, 10 months ago

I think this is a question for the coach then. I don't think it would cost more to have a forth team of soccer players. I agree that every kid who wants to participate, should have the opportunity. I don't think every football coach, baseball coach, basketball coach is on USD salary. The programs have volunteers who coach all those teams. Maybe soccer could have a few more volunteer coaches to have a forth team. Again, I think all kids should have the OPPORTUNITY to participate. I know not every kid gets to be in scholars bowl, National Honor Society or the Principle's honor roll, but all are given the OPPORTUNITY to be on those things.

Shelley Bock 4 years, 10 months ago

KSHSAA has Rule 10 coaches if they aren't under a teaching contract at the school or school district. They obviously sign a contact to coach the sport as volunteers are prohibited by KSHSAA. Rule 10 coaches have special expertise in the sport and such might not be found inside the classroom. Rule 10 coaches must also have an aide who is a certified teacher present as the real teacher / contract employee on the field or basketball court. It is considered a question of liability per KSHSAA.

I don't think your suggestion is wrong, it just isn't plausible under the rules of KSHSAA. The real power lies with the Athletic Director, Principal of the High School and the School Board. Likely expenditure of $5000 for coaches and more for equipment, uniforms, plus transportation to the playing venue.

I very much agree with you regarding participation. Giving opportunities is what we need since there are no "do-overs" as you go through high school.

ComeOnMannnnnnn 4 years, 10 months ago

Its tricky. I think in football you have more instances where a player plays on the freshman team and than spends a year on soph. team and than gets on varsity as a Jr or possibly even waits til he is a senior. But there is true development and reason to play on each level. In soccer, kids get moved up as freshman to play varsity each year and kids who play C team struggle to ever see a varsity field. And all kids do get the same opportunity to make a team as they do to meet qualifications for National Honor Society and scholars bowl etc. Also, the numbers are slightly misleading. At Free State, their coach is so appreciated by the students that he gets kids trying out who are pretty bad players but just want to be a part of his positive energy. It's OK if kids get cut. It happens in most of the other sports. Life's not always fair.

Shelley Bock 4 years, 10 months ago

ComeOnMan, you've got a point that not all of the kids who come out as freshman or sophomores have a hope of getting to varsity, but do have the fun and experience of playing for a school team. That is also the case not only with soccer, but football, basketball and volleyball. Sports like tennis, golf, wrestling, swimming and track provide objective comparisons so participants know exactly where they stand in comparison to others.

I know both of the head coaches at the high schools and why kids want to play for them. Just hate seeing it happen and wish there were opportunities for all who make the commitment.

KSHSAA always preaches that the sports field is an extension of the classroom. Too bad that not all who want "extra" classroom time aren't able to get it.

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