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LHS football facing ‘must’ win tonight

October 24, 2013

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Probable starters

OFFENSE

LT — Alex Jones, sr.

LG — Cole Greenwood, jr.

C — Kyle Wittman, sr.

RG — Jacob Nation, sr.

RT — Amani Bledsoe, so.

QB — Nyle Anderson, jr.

RB — Drew Green, sr.

TE — Adam Hayes, sr.

TE — Price Morgan, so.

WR — Kieran Severa, sr.

WR — Zay Boldridge, sr.

DEFENSE

DT — Kyle Wittman, sr.

NG — Matt Weiss, sr.

DT — Alex Jones, sr.

DE — Zay Boldridge, sr.

DE — Ryan Bellinger, sr.

ILB — Drew Green, sr.

ILB — Tanner Green, so.

CB — JD Woods, so.

CB — Nick Benton, sr.

SS — Tucker Sutter, sr.

FS — Kieran Severa, sr.

No one associated with Lawrence High’s football team wanted to be in this situation, but since suffering a district-opening loss at Leavenworth last week, the players and coaches are doing all they can to remedy it.

The Lions put themselves in a serious hole and jeopardized their chance to qualify for the Class 6A playoffs by losing, 16-8, to the Pioneers.

“It’s a two-game series now,” LHS coach Dirk Wedd said of the final two weeks of the regular season, “and we’ve got to go 2-for-2.”

It begins with tonight’s home game against Wyandotte — kickoff at 7 — and continues Nov. 1 at Free State.

Senior Lions receiver and free safety Kieran Severa said knowing a loss against Wyandotte (3-4) could destroy their season has made practices more intense.

“It’s do or die now. If we lose this game, we can’t go to postseason at all,” Severa said. “That’s a terrifying feeling, knowing the amount of work we’ve put in.”

A senior left tackle for the Lions (2-5), Alex Jones agreed the players have responded in the best way possible to a disappointing offensive performance at Leavenworth.

“I think our offensive line has gotten a little bit better, technique wise,” Jones said. “That’s crucial. If we’re not strong up front, we have to be extra precise. Unlike a lot of teams in this league, we’re not the strongest, and we’re not the biggest.”

It’s neither the strength nor size of Wyandotte that jumped off the screen to Wedd when he watched video of the Bulldogs and their senior quarterback, Dimonic McKinzy, who orally committed to the University of Minnesota.

“Wyandotte is a nightmare for us because of all the speed and skill they have, and that’s what we have a tough time handling,” the coach said. “We’ve gotta play really good to beat them. There’s been years when you could just walk out there and beat ’em, but we’re not in that situation.”

McKinzy threw 36 passes, completing 15 for 135 yards, with two touchdowns and two interceptions, in Wyandotte’s 55-14 district loss to FSHS. But in Wyandotte wins, he has lit up opposing defenses with his passing. Severa said the Lions will try to put some heat on the Bulldogs quarterback while the secondary — Severa, strong safety Tucker Sutter and cornerbacks Nick Benton and JD Woods — does its part.

“As defensive backs. We’ve got to stick to our receivers longer than usual,” Severa said. “If you let them go early, they can get down the field and score a touchdown.”

The key, Wedd added, will be keeping McKinzy guessing when he analyzes the LHS defense.

“We’re sending a million people (on some calls). And we’re also dropping a million people at different times,” Wedd said. “You can’t do one thing with him. You’ve got to change it up and give him different looks. He’s an outstanding athlete.”

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