In the first week of the football season, Lawrence High’s offense dealt with new starters, injuries and a formation it hardly practiced beforehand.
None of those obstacles slowed down the offensive line. Lawrence’s group of blockers paved the way for 406 rushing yards in their season opener last week, and they are confident they will only improve.
The next test for the Lions is traveling to Shawnee Mission North at 7 tonight.
“I was just glad to see all of these underclassmen stepping up and see what they bring to the team, especially last week having a lot of people getting hurt,” senior left guard Nick Englebert said. “I think they stepped up and they helped in a really big way.”
Englebert and center Jacob Mills were the only returning starters on the offensive line last week — senior Kristian Russell will return against SM North — and they were thrilled to see how some of their teammates reacted to their first game.
One of the best signs from the opener was their physicality, whether it was protecting the quarterback or opening holes for their backfield. They switched to a formation geared toward running the clock out in the second half, which led to more success on the ground.
“I feel like it’s a big part to coach (Jamie Resseguie) because coach Res always teaches us to block to the whistle and even to the echo of the whistle,” senior center Jacob Mills said. “So it was nice to see that.”
Lawrence coach Dirk Wedd, who won his 100th game last week, said it will be key for the offensive line to continue improving and “stay humble and hungry.” Bailey Greer and Bryce Tibke are expected to start alongside Englebert, Mills and Russell.
“Just something about being a senior, you feel like you kind of own the field a little bit,” Englebert said.
SM North (0-1) ended Lawrence’s season last year in the second round of the playoffs and the Lions hope to use it as motivation. North lost its season opener against SM South, 22-19.
The Indians are led by dual-threat quarterback Billy Conaway, who was the team’s top receiver last year. Wedd called him a “handful,” and hopes the Lions can find a way to contain him from running loose.
“The bottom line is they walked in here last year and ended our season,” Wedd said. “If that doesn’t leave a bad taste in our seniors’ mouths, then there’s something wrong. I think we’ll come ready to play hopefully.”
For the LHS players, they didn’t need to hear any reminders about their last game against SM North.
“I’m definitely looking forward to getting back out on the field with them — see if there’s anyone I know or recognize from last year,” Englebert said. “Just kind of rev it up a little bit.”
LHS probable starters
LT — Kristian Russell, sr.
LG — Nick Englebert, sr.
C — Jacob Mills, sr.
RG — Bailey Greer, sr.
RT — Bryce Tibke, jr.
QB — Dante Jackson, sr.
RB — Hunter Krom, sr.
WR — Ekow Boye-Doe, sr.
WR — Jalen Dudley, sr.
WR — Brett Chapple, jr.
WR — Bryson Cummins, jr.
K — Ross Brungardt, jr.
P — Jalen Dudley, sr.
DE — Eric Galbreath, jr.
DT — Nick Miller, jr.
DT — EJ Jewsom, jr.
DE — Kaiden Ambrose, sr.
LB — Ja’Relle Dye, sr.
LB — Isaac Flint, jr.
LB — Caleb Mondi, jr.
CB — Ekow Boye-Doe, sr.
CB — DeShon Lewis, so.
SS — Jakoby Masters, jr.
FS — Harrison King, sr.