Baker University, which opens its football season today at home at 6 p.m. against Ottawa, will count on contributions from 15 men who played their high school football in Lawrence.
Just like during their days at Free State High, Michael Lisher, Justin McCandless and Cale Nieder, will be throwing blocks for speedy Camren Torneden. A quarterback in high school and a running back for the Wildcats, Torneden comes to Baker as a transfer from Central Missouri.
Other former Firebirds on the roster for Baker: Aundre Allen, Tye Hughes, Dylan Perry, Preston Schenck, Connor Stremel and Taylor Stuart.
Five former Lawrence High players are on the roster as well: Jordan and Kharon Brown, Dominick Reiske, Ben and Joshua Seybert.
Area players suiting up for Baker include Nick Baker and Greg Snell of Eudora High, Jesse Austin of Baldwin, Jeremy Immenschuh of Perry-Lecompton and Ryan Hicks of De Soto.
Austin, Lisher, McCandless and Snell are listed on the two-deep chart as starters on offense. Schenck and Ben Seybert are defensive starters. Torneden is a first-string punt and kick returner and Perry is a first-team kick returner.
Today’s game in Liston Stadium, billed as “The County Line Clash,” pits No. 15 Baker against No. 18 Ottawa in the NAIA top 25 coaches’ poll. Former Firebird T.J. Cobbs will suit up for Ottawa.
“What a great first matchup,” Baker coach Mike Grossner said in an interview posted on the school’s website. “Little history: We’re No. 2 all-time in victories in the NAIA and Ottawa’s No. 3, so what more could you ask for for an opener, 15 miles apart. Our players respect their team, but of course with a rivalry you don’t like each other. Both teams want to win and this is going to be a great atmosphere.”