FSHS, LHS continue to improve defenses in summer football camp

photo by: Shane Jackson

Free State players swarm to the ball during the Baker football camp Thursday, June 14, 2018, at LHS. FSHS participated in a two-day camp with Lawrence High, Bishop Miege and Shawnee Mission South.

Lawrence High head coach Steve Rampy has known since this past winter that the defense has a chance to be a difference maker in 2018.

The Lions bring back plenty of experienced players from last year’s team, and it has shown this summer. Lawrence made several defensive plays during the final day of the Baker football camp Thursday at LHS.

“We have talked about that since January,” Rampy said. “Offenses come and go. But a school like Lawrence High School should always have a great defense.”

Free State High School, Bishop Miege and Shawnee Mission South competed in the camp with LHS, as all four teams took turns rotating between offense and defense during the scrimmage.

photo by: Shane Jackson

Lawrence High intercepts a pass from Free State during the Baker football camp Thursday, June 14, 2018, at LHS. The Lions competed in the two-day camp with Bishop Miege, Shawnee Mission South and FSHS.

The Lions held their own against three quality offenses throughout the camp. They denied multiple deep shots, including a play where they notched an interception over the middle against Firebirds quarterback Malik Berry.

LHS rotated in several players during the scrimmage for more reps, though a bulk of the starting unit saw action last fall when the team went 5-5.

“I think this defense can be better,” senior Enoch Jewsome said. “Our focus is better. Last year, we had a lot of younger guys. We know what we are doing now.”

Jewsome, who is a defensive tackle, will serve as an anchor on the defensive line. He will also embrace a leadership role, which has been the case in the weight room. Jewsome has put in the work in that area, as he managed to squat 600 pounds this past spring.

This season, Jewsome will also play on the offensive side of the ball for the first time in his career. Jewsome will start at guard on the offensive line, a move he thinks will actually help improve his natural position.

“I can take what I’m learning on offense and use it on defense,” Jewsome said. “I know what an offensive guy wants to do on this play, and what I can do to stop him. I appreciate playing both sides very much.”

Free State, meanwhile, will have plenty of new faces on the defensive side of the ball this season.

As a result, the summer camp was crucial for the Firebirds to get several younger players more reps. Free State hopes to improve on last year’s 10-1 finish, in which the team fell to Derby in the 6A quarterfinals.

Still, head coach Bob Lisher saw plenty of positives from his defense during camp.

“We have some skilled people that are returning,” Lisher said. “Our main concern right now is building up some starters and some depth. We showed flashes of what we can be today.”

Senior Keenan Garber, who verbally committed to Kansas State on Monday, is one of the few players the Firebirds have with experience. He and Berry will lead the secondary, which shut down several passing plays across two days.

“We lost a lot of seniors,” Garber said. “We have some underclassman stepping up. They are out here getting experience and learning. It is really good to have them get some reps out here.”

Free State makes up for its lack of experience with its overall speed. The Firebirds showed their ability to swarm to the ball on a consistent basis.

“We have some team speed, but I don’t want to have to use it all the time,” Lisher said. “I want to make some stops at the line of scrimmage. We have some people that can chase things down. We have to tighten the gaps up. Six inches is a big deal in this game.”

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