Two wins away from a spot in the Class 6A football state championship game, Lawrence High senior running back JD Woods is only focused on his next game.
But his past 10 games will go down in the record books.
In last week’s playoff victory over Shawnee Mission North, Woods ran for 186 yards and four touchdowns, breaking the school’s single-season rushing record with 1,880 yards and 33 touchdowns this year. He eclipsed Michael Cosey’s previous record of 1,854 yards, set in 1991.
Woods already broke Cosey’s career rushing record last month, during a 35-yard touchdown run on a sweep to the right sideline against Olathe Northwest. He’s nearing 4,000 yards in his three-year varsity career.
Cosey set the previous career and single-season rushing records while sharing the backfield with Adam Green, who nearly ran for 1,000 yards in ’91.
“I always thought Michael Cosey was the best player that I’ve ever seen in my entire life, and I’d probably still say that,” said Green, Lawrence’s defensive coordinator. “But JD is definitely right up there.”
Woods, a state runner-up in the 100-meter dash last spring, is a faster back than Cosey. But they both are competitive — just in different ways.
“JD’s competitiveness is in your face,” Green said. “Michael was a bit more soft-spoken, kind of laid low, kind of laid back. Definitely a quiet competitiveness about him, for sure. JD is definitely more of outgoing and loud.”
Woods is only the third running back in LHS history to surpass 3,000 career rushing yards, joining Cosey and Brandon McAnderson, a 2003 grad. Before Lawrence split into a two-school town, it was nearly impossible for a sophomore to play with the varsity squad.
McAnderson later ran for more than 1,000 yards during his senior season at Kansas University, helping the Jayhawks to an Orange Bowl victory in 2008. He’s now an assistant coach at Shawnee Mission South and saw Woods run for 257 yards and four touchdowns against his team last month.
“He scored first play of the game, and it’s something as small as taking a bad angle,” McAnderson said of Woods. “You take a bad angle, that’s it. That’s the only chance you have. You’re off on your aiming point, and he’s out of there.”
McAnderson closed in on Cosey’s records during his senior season but finished just 65 yards shy of the single-season record. It was special for McAnderson because he looked up to Cosey as a kid. His dad, Ramon, coached Cosey in little leagues.
“(Cosey) was one of my young heroes,” McAnderson said. “Adam Green, I remember those two. That was like Marcus Allen and Bo Jackson to me.
“Having a chance to kind of approach those numbers was really awesome,” McAnderson added. “It was really, really a good opportunity. I could be a fan in some sense. I wanted to play for Lawrence High more than I wanted to play for KU or anybody when I was a kid. Having a chance to be in the same breath as Cosey was pretty awesome.”
Woods said breaking Cosey’s records was “emotional.” He’s cousins with Cosey, related through Cosey’s mother and Woods’ grandmother.
It was also a chance for Woods to honor his grandfather. He never thought he would have a chance at the record because he always expected to split carries in the backfield.
“My granddad, before he died, he’d always just tell me to be the best football player I could be,” Woods said. “Right after football season my sophomore year, he passed away. I just have been doing everything for him lately.”
Woods is thrilled he broke the records, but for now, he doesn’t have time to take his focus away from a state title. That was the same mindset for McAnderson, who lost in the state quarterfinals during his senior season.
“You’re always chasing that (state title),” McAnderson said. “It’s always bigger than any individual accomplishment. It’s not just something you say. You feel it.”
Lawrence’s 3,000-yard running backs
JD Woods — 3,856 yards, 57 TD
Sophomore season: 309 yards, 4 TD
Junior season: 1,667 yards, 20 TD
Senior season (through 10 games): 1,880 yards, 33 TD
Michael Cosey — 3,281 yards, 46 TD
Sophomore season: 25 yards, 0 TD
Junior season: 1,402 yards, 20 TD
Senior season: 1,854 yards, 26 TD
Brandon McAnderson — 3,052 yards, 41 TD
Sophomore season: 559 yards, 5 TD
Junior season: 704 yards, 11 TD
Senior season: 1,789 yards, 25 TD