Looking to convince Kobe Buffalomeat to play football for the first time in three years, Lawrence High football coach Dirk Wedd went to his family members.
Wedd talked to Buffalomeat’s grandfather, parents and older brother with a simple message: “Might as well come out and try it so I don't look back at life and wish I played football,” Buffalomeat said.
With injuries in the past two games, the 6-foot-8, 282-pound Buffalomeat has played significant snaps on the offensive line and he’s expected to contribute in the same way against Olathe South (1-4) at 7 p.m. today at Olathe District Activity Center.
Buffalomeat, usually the first player off of the bench for the boys basketball team last year, said the summer workouts were difficult but he’s pretty happy that he made a return to the gridiron.
Along with Buffalomeat, LHS senior linebacker Azariah LeBrun made the decision to return to football after stepping away from the sport.
LeBrun played at Free State during his freshman and sophomore seasons, but sat out last year after transferring to Lawrence.
“A lot of people asked me to come play,” LeBrun said of his decision to return. “I still wanted to play.”
One of the biggest benefits of Lawrence’s platoons is the extra repetitions in practice each day for players like Buffalomeat and LeBrun. Instead of splitting time on offense and defense, they are focused at one position.
“We really forced fed them into being contributors because we don’t have them next year,” Wedd said. “It’s important that they contribute early on. We felt like Kobe was a really good football player as a freshman with a high ceiling.”
LeBrun, one of the team’s leading tacklers over the past few games, made a lot of strides in the weight room and on the field during the summer.
He said he received a “tiny bit” of playing time at the varsity level during his sophomore year at Free State, but it took time to readjust to a key role on Lawrence’s defense.
“(LeBrun) came out just for a couple days last year as a junior and then went another direction,” Wedd said. “But he came in the weight room and worked his tail off all winter. … He’s done a great job, big surprise.”
For Buffalomeat, coaches noticed his aggressiveness during summer practices and his size has helped him adjust to the varsity level at a quick pace.
“I kind of picked up where I left off,” Buffalomeat said. “I didn’t forget too many things. Just the fine adjustments you have to make to the steps and stuff.”
LHS probable starters
LT — Kristian Russell, jr.
LG — Nick Englebert, jr.
C — Jacob Mills, jr.
RG — Jesse Tunget, sr.
RT — Kevin Nichols, sr.
QB — Dante’ Jackson, jr.
RB — Trey Moore, sr.
WR — Ekow Boye-Doe, jr.
WR — Caleb Mondi, so.
WR — Jalen Dudley, jr.
WR — Clarence King, so.
K — Cole Brungardt, sr.
P — Dante’ Jackson, jr.
DE — Jacob Unruh, sr.
DT — Mark Greene, sr.
DT — BJ Murry, sr.
DE — Samuel Bart, so.
LB — Santino Gee, sr.
LB — Azariah LeBrun, sr.
LB — Erik Shackelford, sr.
CB — Dante’ Jackson, jr.
CB — Ekow Boye-Doe, jr.
SS — James Reeder, sr.
FS — Cade Burghart, sr.