Lawrence High football coach Dirk Wedd and his staff didn’t know what they would find out about their team — good or bad — at Emporia State University’s two-day contact camp. However, from Sunday to Monday, the coaches observed a team that improved a great deal.
LHS certainly didn’t look perfect as it practiced in full pads against other high school programs, but Wedd said the positives outweighed the negatives. That was a direct result of the team’s youngest players proving their worth.
“Our sophomores are gonna have to play a lot,” Wedd said. “They stepped up and did a really good job. They showed a great deal of promise.”
Wedd really liked what he saw out of his linebackers. Everyone on the team knew senior Drew Green would perform there, but sophomores Tanner Green, Price Morgan and Konner Kelly did, too.
In the trenches, sophomore Amani Bledsoe showed that he could impact both sides of the line. And when the Lions put the ball in the hands of sophomore running back JD Woods, they discovered his speed and agility could be a weapon.
“All of the sophomores showed probably more improvement than anyone else,” Wedd said, “because they had the farthest to go.”
Of the sophomore group, quarterback Alan Clothier received the most difficult test. Senior quarterback Tucker Sutter felt sick the first day of camp and wasn’t at full strength. The next day, he couldn’t compete. That hurt the coaches’ chances to evaluate Lawrence’s quarterback situation, but it also became tough on Clothier to take so many snaps. Wedd said the young QB handled it the best that he could.
“He’s got to continue to improve for us to do the things that we want to do,” the coach said. “We really want to be a balanced team. If we’re fifty-fifty (half-run, half-pass) I’ll be happy as all get out.”
Sophomores weren’t the only Lions making their teammates and coaches take notice. At receiver, junior Zakary McAlister and senior Jacob Seratte emerged as valuable targets. In the secondary, junior Dearion Cooper gave the Lions another defender to team with senior safety Kieran Severa.
The remainder of the summer, the Lions will be lifting weights, going through football workouts and facing other high school teams in seven-on-seven situations.
“We feel good about where we’re at,” Wedd said. “We just know that we can’t be satisfied with where we’re at, either.”