Lawrence High’s football team won a share of the Sunflower League title this season with an undefeated record through five league games. Now, the Lions have a chance to remove any doubt and prove they’re the top team in the league.
The Lions split the title with Olathe North, and the two schools will play an unofficial league championship game at 7 tonight at LHS, televised on KSMO-TV (WOW! 3, 203).
A prize for winning the de facto league title game is a potential No. 1 seed in the Class 6A state playoffs. Lawrence and Olathe North are the last two undefeated teams on the east side of the state, and a win in the final district game next week would secure the top spot in the east bracket.
“You can tell intensity is up a little bit,” LHS coach Dirk Wedd said. “But these guys have taken one game at a time. It’s just we’re playing somebody really good, and they are as talented as all get-out. They’re undefeated. We’re really playing for quite a bit.”
The Lions are looking for their first win against Olathe North since 2011. In the past two seasons, the Eagles (7-0, 1-0 in districts) have shut out the LHS offense, winning both games by four touchdowns.
But this season, the Lions (7-0, 1-0, ranked No. 1 by Kpreps.com) boast one of the top defenses in the state, allowing just 9.3 points per game.
“I’m excited,” LHS senior linebacker Tanner Green said. “I love hitting people. Everyone on our defense loves hitting people. They’re one of the teams … we don’t like them very much. We just really want to give it to them.”
The Lions changed defensive fronts this season, using their size to their advantage. Seniors Amani Bledsoe, Trey Georgie and Nate Koehn, along with junior Jake Unruh, are all taller than 6-foot-1 and average 275 pounds on the defensive line.
Meanwhile, the Eagles have scored at least 40 points in their last five games. Olathe North is led offensively by dual-threat quarterback Matt Wright and running back Vinson Shabazz, who has rushed for 1,197 yards and 19 touchdowns this year. They also have senior receiver/safety Isaiah Simmons, one of the top recruits in the state who has caught 17 passes for 537 yards and five TDs.
“They’re always physical, and they always have a lot of talent,” Green said of Olathe North. “We’ve got a whole bunch of talent and just as much physicality, so I think we’ll have a pretty good shot.”
LHS probable starters
LT — Trey Georgie, sr. LG — Jacob Unruh, jr. C — Mark Greene, jr. RG — Ethan Taylor, so. RT — Amani Bledsoe, sr.
QB — Alan Clothier, sr. RB — JD Woods, sr. H — Peter Afful, sr. WR — Ivan Hollins, sr. WR — J’Mony Bryant, sr. TE — Price Morgan, sr.
K — Cole Brungardt, jr. P — Alan Clothier, sr.
DE — Trey Georgie, sr. DT — Nathan Koehn, sr. DT — Jacob Unruh, jr. DE — Amani Bledsoe, sr. LB — Konner Kelley, sr. LB — Price Morgan, sr. LB — Tanner Green, sr.
CB — Dante’ Jackson, so. CB — Ivan Hollins, sr. SS — Santino Gee, jr. FS — Cade Burghart, jr.