Leavenworth Before his Lawrence High football team took the field at Pioneer Stadium on Friday night, coach Dirk Wedd reminded the Lions he wanted them to make an opening statement of sorts.
In a game Lawrence was supposed to win, its coach required something special to set the table for the rest of the night.
On the first play from scrimmage, senior running back JD Woods delivered an outburst of a declaration, taking off for an 89-yard touchdown. It established the Lions would embody the exact spirit Wedd had hoped for in what became a 41-14 rout of Leavenworth.
Woods scored his first of five touchdowns and let the Pioneers know what brand of football the Lions (2-0) play by following the blocks of senior right tackle Amani Bledsoe and senior tight end Price Morgan. At the same time, junior back Trey Moore gave Woods a kick-out block near the line of scrimmage. As Woods hit his stride down the visitors’ sideline, senior receiver J’Mony Bryant kept up with him.
“We run track together,” Woods said of Bryant. “I know he’s a fast guy. Once I saw him next to me, I let him get in front of me so I could get to the end zone. I knew he was gonna pick up the block.”
Indeed, Bryant’s effort on the opening play made it all possible, and Woods said that down-field blocking established the tone for the game.
“Our receivers do a really good job of blocking in practice, and that’s something that our coaches preach,” Woods said. “If we want to be a good team, we’re gonna have to block with the running backs and the receivers.”
With the tenor of the game firmly demonstrated, the dangerous, 5-foot-7 Woods went on to rush for 181 yards and five scores on just 16 carries. By now, Wedd almost has come to expect such displays from his senior back.
“He’s a big-time player,” the Lawrence coach said. “He’s so explosive and he understands the game. He plays so hard. He probably hates to lose as much as any kid I’ve coached in a long, long time.”
A 6-foot-5 senior, Bledsoe said he and fellow offensive linemen Trey Georgie, Jacob Unruh, Mark Greene and Ethan Taylor know how to compliment Woods’ dynamite running style.
“We give him a little wiggle room and he works with it,” Bledsoe said. “We definitely come out as an O-line and try to help him as much as we can.”
The Lions’ linemen make sure every ball carrier looks good. Lawrence senior quarterback Alan Clothier rushed 116 yards on just six carries. And when Woods already had 146 yards and four touchdowns late in the second quarter, Lawrence called Moore’s No. 38 for every down of an eight-play, 58-yard drive that Moore capped with an easy one-yard counter for a TD.
“We’re gonna be the workhorses of the team,” Woods said of he and his fellow back, who ran for 79 yards on 12 carries. “We can’t get tired and get down on ourselves or our team. We’ve just gotta keep working and run the ball as hard as we can, no matter how tired we are.”
Lawrence used 10 different rushers in the blowout, gaining 408 yards on 48 carries.
The Pioneers (0-2) struggled on offense throughout the first half — 24 yards, compared to Lawrence’s 313. Even after they picked up their lone first down of the first two quarters, the Lions forced a punt. And Bledsoe nearly swallowed it whole.
“I came in untouched, came in pretty clean,” the grinning lineman said after the game. Bledsoe thought for a split-second the ball might just get caught between his arm and chest, and he could run it in for a score. Instead, it hit him in the elbow and he couldn’t control it.
Wedd loved seeing another blocked punt, a week after Woods did the same.
“It tells you how unselfish these kids are,” the coach said.”A lot of high school teams don’t play their best players on special teams and those kids want to play on special teams.”
In Week 3, the Lions will play at rival Free State.
“We’ve beat two opponents that we should beat,” Wedd said, “and now we’re gonna play somebody that’s as good or better than we are.”
Lawrence High 41, Leavenworth 14
First downs 17 10
Rushes-yards 48-408 36-212
Passing yards 14 0
Total offense 422 212
Return yards 15 66
Fumbles-lost 1-0 2-1
Penalties-yards 8-70 2-20
Score by quarters
Lawrence 14 20 7 0 — 41
Leavenworth 0 0 0 14 — 14
LHS: J.D. Woods 16-181 5 TDs, Alan Clothier 6-116, Trey Moore 12-79 TD, James Reeder 6-12, Dante Jackson 4-11, Jalen Dudley 1-3, Santino Gee 1-2, Travis Barfield 1-2, Patrick Silva 1-2.
LV: Wade Jackson 15-108 TD, Adrian Perez 7-55, Drew Sachen 14-49 TD.
LHS: Clothier 1-1-14.
LV: Sachen 0-4-0.
LHS: Konner Kelley 1-14.
HOW THEY SCORED
11:45 — J.D. Woods 89 run. Cole Brungardt kick. (Lawr. 7, Leav. 0.)
5:44 — Woods 4 run. Brungardt kick. (Lawr. 14, Leav. 0.)
11:58 — Woods 1 run. Brungardt kick. (Lawr. 21, Leav. 0.)
6:07 — Woods 1 run. Brungardt kick failed. (Lawr. 27, Leav. 0.)
0:17 — Trey Moore 1 run. Brungardt kick. (Lawr. 34, Leav. 0.)
6:30 — Woods 42 run. Brungardt kick. (Lawr. 41, Leav. 0.)
11:37 — Drew Sachen 21 run. John Buckley kick. (Lawr. 41, Leav. 7.)
2:55 — Wade Jackson 12 run. Buckley kick. (Lawr. 41, Leav. 14.)