Lions hoping to turn tables tonight

Lawrence High football players don’t need to be reminded of their past games against Free State. The LHS seniors are still looking for their first victory against their crosstown foes.

The Lions hope to change their luck and keep their undefeated record intact during the City Showdown at 7 tonight at Free State.

The Firebirds have won seven of the last eight matchups, with their last loss in 2011.

“Real excited. This is the game you really look forward to all year,” LHS senior linebacker and tight end Price Morgan said. “Crosstown rivalry … it doesn’t get much better than this.”

The Firebirds (0-2) are focused on fixing the mistakes that have haunted them in their two losses — by a combined 12 points. They’ve had four touchdowns called back by penalties and four turnovers.

“We go out and do those things, eliminate the mistakes we’ve been making, then if the other team beats us, so be it,” FSHS coach Bob Lisher said. “We don’t want to put ourselves in a position where we beat ourselves again.”

The Lions (2-0) aren’t taking the Firebirds lightly, no matter their record. LHS coach Dirk Wedd called the Firebirds, “the best 0-2 football team in the state of Kansas,” and the Lions know how talented they are after most of them played together growing up.

“They’ve played a tougher schedule than us, and we know what their team is capable of,” LHS senior receiver and cornerback J’Mony Bryant said. “We’re getting ready for them.”

In last year’s City Showdown, the Lions only trailed by four points in the third quarter before the Firebirds scored on three straight possessions. Their biggest challenge will be containing Free State senior dual-threat quarterback Bryce Torneden and running back Sam Skwarlo, who rushed for 196 yards and a touchdown last week.

“They’re explosive,” LHS coach Dirk Wedd said. “Their skill is unbelievable. Torneden and Skwarlo, they’re really good football players but they’re even better kids. That means they are high-character people and they’re going to show up in a big game. That’s always a concern.”

The Firebirds, who implemented a new defensive scheme this year, showed a lot of improvement last week against Olathe North, limiting touchdowns with their bend-but-don’t-break mentality when backed near the goal line.

But they’ll receive one of their toughest tests in trying to slow down LHS senior running back JD Woods, who has rushed for 285 yards and scored eight touchdowns in two games this season.

“We’re getting better at it,” Lisher said of the defense. “We’re not great at it, but as the game (last week) progressed, we got better and we got more comfortable. That was a positive. We need to continue to do that. But we’re facing one of the best — if not the best — offenses around us. That’s going to be a big challenge.”

Players from both teams said there hasn’t been any trash talk between the two programs this week.

They’re just focused on making sure they are at their best for the opening kickoff.

“We’re talking about, ‘We cannot go 0-4 against these guys,'” Morgan said. “This is a big deal for us. I’ve been a part of the basketball team and we’ve been pretty successful against them the last couple of years and I really want that feeling to be transferred onto the football field.”

Added Torneden: “We’re just excited for (tonight). Ready to prove some people wrong.”



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 — Trey Moore, jr.

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 — J’Mony Bryant, sr.

CB — Ivan Hollins, sr.

SS — Coulter Strauss, sr.

FS — Cade Burghart, jr.



LT — Jacob Purcell, jr.

LG — Lane Nations, sr.

C — Garrett Swisher, sr.

RG — Chase Houk, jr.

RT — Tanner Liba, sr.

QB — Bryce Torneden, sr.

RB — Sam Skwarlo, sr.

H — Zack Sanders, jr.

WR — Logan McKinney, sr.

WR — Daniel Bryant, jr.

TE — Darian Lewis, sr.

K — Jay Dineen, jr.

P — Drew Tochtrop, sr.


DT — Sam Hambleton, jr.

NG — Darian Lewis, sr.

DT — Jalen Galloway, sr.

OLB — Paul Bittinger, sr.

ILB — Jay Dineen, jr.

ILB — Sam Skwarlo, sr.

OLB — Drew Tochtrop, sr.

CB — Zack Sanders, jr.

CB — Logan McKinney, sr.

FS — Bryce Torneden, sr.

SS — Daniel Bryant, jr.