The Free State High football team’s convincing 35-14 victory over previously top-ranked Shawnee Mission West on Friday gave the Firebirds the marquee win they needed to usurp the rest of Class 6A in the Kpreps.com rankings.
FSHS (4-0) moved from No. 2 to No. 1 in the website’s latest top five.
Class 6A’s defending state champions, the Vikings (3-1) dropped to No. 4, getting surpassed by not only FSHS, but also No. 2 Derby (3-1) and No. 3 Hutchinson (3-1). Topeka (4-0) is ranked No. 5.
Following the Firebirds’ victory over SMW, coach Bob Lisher said it didn’t necessarily mean anything long-term for his team, and he expects the Vikings will be in the mix for a state title, once again, in the postseason.
“It’s early in the year,” Lisher said. “We have to continue to improve, just like Shawnee Mission West will.”
Senior FSHS receiver Khadre Lane, who grabbed two passes for 60 yards and a touchdown on Friday, agreed with Lisher’s sentiment and pointed to how things played out last fall.
“We know they’re a second-half-of-the-season team,” Lane said of SMW. “We beat ’em pretty handily last year (28-14) in the regular season, and they came back and beat us (in the playoffs, 48-21). It didn’t matter.”
A senior linebacker and receiver, Keith Loneker said Free State performed far better against SMW than it had in any other game this season.
“We put it together,” Loneker said. “We’re gonna really push from here.”
The impressive showing, senior quarterback and free safety Joe Dineen said, helped the Firebirds prove something to themselves.
“When we come out and play,” Dineen said, “we can beat anybody in the state.”
Even though the outcome put FSHS atop the rankings and tied the Firebirds with Shawnee Mission East (4-0) for first in the Sunflower League, Lane said they could only celebrate immediately after the 21-point win.
“It’s fun while it lasts,” the senior said. “We’ve just got to enjoy this one and get back on the field and get back to work.”
The Firebirds will play Thursday at Olathe North (2-2).
Fresh off a 45-6 drubbing of Spring Hill, Baldwin (4-0) is ranked No. 3 in the Kpreps.com 4A top five. Like the Bulldogs, No. 1 Holton, No. 2 Andale, No. 4 Buhler and No. 5 Coffeyville enter Week 5 unbeaten.