When Lawrence High’s football players ran onto the field Friday for their season opener against Blue Valley West, they had one goal in mind: make a statement.
That’s exactly what the Lions did, routing Blue Valley West, 35-14, at LHS.
It was the polar opposite of their start a year ago, when they struggled to get stops or move the ball against the Jaguars. The Lions only gave up 37 rushing yards Friday and held a 35-0 lead midway through the third quarter.
After allowing two first downs on Blue Valley West’s first possession, the Lions didn’t give up a first down on the next three drives. Senior linebackers Price Morgan, Tanner Green and Konner Kelley flew around the field to make tackles. Senior defensive linemen Trey Georgie and Amani Bledsoe provided quick pressure on passing plays.
In the secondary, senior cornerbacks J’Mony Bryant, Ivan Hollins and JD Woods, and sophomore Dante Jackson, blanketed receivers, and safeties Coulter Strauss and Cade Burghart helped stuff the run.
“We take a lot of pride in our defense,” Morgan said. “Offense wins games, defense wins championships. So we really want to take that mentality and put a lot of pride in it. It’s just a total team thing.”
With Georgie, Bledsoe, Nathan Koehn and Jacob Unruh tying up blockers on the defensive line, it frees up the linebackers to make plays.
“The line eats up a lot of blocks,” Green said. “All those four big butts up there, they do their job and leave us free to make the plays.”
With the defense shutting down the Jaguars (ranked No. 4 in Class 5A in the coaches’ poll), it didn’t take long for the Lions to find a rhythm on offense.
Midway through the first quarter, senior quarterback Alan Clothier tossed a delayed shovel pass to senior running back Woods, who sprinted up the middle between the hashmarks for a 66-yard touchdown reception.
“Man, I just started sprinting as fast as I could,” Woods said. “Coulter Strauss actually had a really good block right there, so I just took off right up the middle. The receivers did a really good job blocking, and I’m really proud of them.”
Woods scored a rushing touchdown on the next drive, converting a third-and-seven near the red zone by taking a direct snap in the “Wildcat” formation and picking up 12 yards. Two plays later, he was celebrating in the end zone after an 11-yard rush.
The 5-foot-7, 180-pound Woods didn’t stop there. After Hollins broke up a pass to force another three-and-out, Woods blocked a punt, which was scooped up by his track teammate, junior Erik Shackelford, for a touchdown.
“You give JD an inch, and he’s gone,” said Morgan, who caught an 18-yard touchdown right before halftime. “I don’t think I’ve seen anybody as fast as he is. He just works so hard every day in practice. I think he hates to lose more than anybody. You can see that in the way he plays.”
Woods added another touchdown, his third of the game, in the third quarter when he dashed to his left and sprinted through a hole opened by linemen Georgie, Unruh and Mark Greene for a 35-0 lead.
“This is a year where we’re pretty gifted,” LHS coach Dirk Wedd said. “We’ve nurtured it. They weren’t making those plays when they were sophomores.”
Lawrence High 35, BV West 14
First downs 10 11
Rushes-yards 39-163 20-37
Passing yards 120 218
Total offense 283 255
Return yards 43 70
Fumbles-lost 0-0 0-0
Penalties-yards 8-72 6-45
Score by quarters
BV West 0 0 14 0 — 14
Lawrence 7 21 7 0 — 35
LHS: Trey Moore 6-22, Alan Clothier 8-30, JD Woods 22-104 2 TD, Dante Jackson 2-8, James Reeder 1-(minus) 1
BVW: John Lacy 9-24, Nathan Wiles 11-13 TD.
LHS: Clothier 10-14–120 2 TDs.
BVW: Wiles 17-31–218 TD and INT.
LHS: Moore 3-17, Woods 2-66 TD, J’Mony Bryant 1-10, Price Morgan 2-32 TD, Jackson 2-(minus) 5.
BVW: Jake Lansford 4-49, Mark Collins 3-13, Cole Richenburg 4-58 TD, Lacy 2-4, Brandon Shaw 3-70, Cooper Ast 1-24.
HOW THEY SCORED
4:05 — JD Woods 66 pass from Alan Clothier. Cole Brungardt kick good. (LHS 7, BVW 0.)
10:50 — Woods 11 run. Brungardt kick good. (LHS 14, BVW 0.)
9:59 — Erik Shackelford 14 blocked punt recovery. Brungardt kick good. (LHS 21, BVW 0.)
0:44 — Price Morgan 18 pass from Clothier. Brungardt kick good. (LHS 28, BVW 0.)
6:37 — Woods 11 run. Brungardt kick good. (LHS 35, BVW 0.)
5:17 — Cole Richenburg 11 pass from Nathan Wiles. Paul Wolff kick good. (LHS 35, BVW 7).
0:00 — Wiles 1 run. Wolff kick good. (LHS 35, BVW 14.)