Lions ready for ‘physical’ matchup against SM East
One season after winning its first Sunflower League title in 22 years, Lawrence High’s football team has the opportunity to repeat the feat for the first time since 1992-93.
On a 14-game winning streak against league opponents, the Lions will face their toughest test against Shawnee Mission East at 7 tonight at LHS.
The Lancers (5-1, 4-0 in the league) feature the highest-scoring offense in Class 6A, averaging 50.7 points per game. It’s a no-huddle, flexbone offensive attack that uses misdirection and option plays to put their best athletes in open space.
Playing a top-five ranked team for the first time this year, the Lions said they raised the intensity in practices this week.
“They know it’s going to be a physical game,” Lawrence coach Dirk Wedd said. “You play the third-ranked team in the state and it’s going to wake you up a little bit.”
The Lions (5-1, 4-0) faced a similar offensive style against Olathe North and it took them about one half to become comfortable against that style of play.
“It’s similar but it’s run by a whole bunch of cats that are pretty darn good,” Wedd said. One of the biggest difficulties is that it’s so tough to replicate in practice with game speed.
Looking to adjust for the physicality and option offense against SM East, the Lions spent extra time Wednesday with the starting offense and starting defense competing against each other.
The Lancers were actually the last Sunflower League team to beat the Lions, knocking them out of the playoffs in 2014.
“The only difference is we’re just practicing option football, option football and option football,” LHS senior free safety Cade Burghart said of practices. “I guess the atmosphere is different. We’re a lot more physical now. We’re ready.”
The Lions are thrilled with their strong start the season, surpassing most expectations when they lost 18 starters from last year.
“Right after the seniors were done playing football last year, people were like, ‘Oh, we’re not going to be good this year,'” LHS senior defensive lineman BJ Murry said.
Now the Lions are excited about the challenge of facing of the top teams in the state, especially with an opportunity to pull a little bit closer to another potential league title.
“It’s in the back of all of our minds,” Burghart said. “We want to get another one. We haven’t done it since ’92-93, I think that’s what coach said. We want to be like them.”
LHS probable starters
LT — Kristian Russell, jr.
LG — Nick Englebert, jr.
C — Jacob Mills, jr.
RG — Kevin Nichols, sr.
RT — Kobe Buffalomeat, 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 — Jake Unruh, sr.
DT — Mark Greene, sr.
DT — BJ Murry, sr.
DE — Eric Galbreath, 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.