Preps notebook: Shane Skwarlo continues to anchor FSHS offensive line
photo by: Chris Duderstadt
Shane Skwarlo is certain he never won a test of strength with his two older brothers growing up.
In fact, Shane Skwarlo recalls that his only win over Sam Skwarlo and Stan Skwarlo came on the basketball court. Still, the Free State senior guard admits that his athletic career has been shaped by that sibling rivalry.
“We would always want to be first,” Shane Skwarlo said. “It made me tougher to get beat up by them. I was always trying to work to be at their level.”
As a senior in 2015 with the Firebirds, Sam Skwarlo rushed for 1,492 yards and 21 touchdowns before joining the University of Kansas football team. Sam Skwarlo ultimately transferred to Coffeyville Community College, where he is a running back.
Stan Skwarlo, who graduated in 2014, went on to run at Wichita State after finishing his football and track career at FSHS.
Meanwhile, Shane Skwarlo is currently a crucial component on the offensive line to help lead the Firebirds to the second round of the 6A West playoffs. Free State (9-0, No. 2 team in Class 6A) will play host to Haysville Campus (6-3) at 7 p.m. Friday.
“(Skwarlo) is the senior anchor in there,” FSHS head coach Bob Lisher said. “He’s a two-year starter and knows the ropes. It is very important that we have him out there to steady the ship.”
Entering the season, Lisher was concerned about the offensive line as a unit. Skwarlo helped alleviate his worries, as the fivesome of junior Turner Corcoran, senior Kyle Flachsbarth, senior Zach Rasys, junior Ryan Lutz and Skwarlo provided crucial blocking through much of the season.
Corcoran, a left tackle with several offers from Division 1 schools, has been sidelined the last two weeks with a knee injury. As a result, Skwarlo has handled more responsibility on the left side along with junior Frankie Calderon.
“We have done a lot of combo blocks,” Skwarlo said. “With his size, Turner can take guys on his own and I can get to the next level. With him not being there, we had to adjust with some technique stuff.”
Yet, Skwarlo has handled the added pressure in Corcoran’s absence, which comes as no surprise given his football background.
Skwarlo, who has been playing since the first grade, has played several different positions in his career. Growing up, Skwarlo played running back and linebacker before moving to tight end his sophomore season. Skwarlo then started at right guard for FSHS last fall before switching to left guard this season.
“I had to switch over different zone schemes for different sides,” Skwarlo said. “Other than that, nothing really was different. It helps playing next to Turner.”
Skwarlo has also filled in at linebacker for the Firebirds throughout the season.
At the end of the day, Skwarlo just wants to play the game he has loved all of his life.
“I just like to hit someone every play,” Skwarlo said. “I really like the team aspect. I like how everyone has a job to do. If one person doesn’t do their job, it could ruin that play.”
FSHS probable starters
QB — Malik Berry, jr.; RB — Jax Dineen, sr.; WR — Peyton Sparks, sr.; WR — Jaxon Webb, sr.; H — Keenan Garber, sr.; H — LJ Mack, sr.; TE — Jake Zenger, sr.; LT — Turner Corcoran, jr.; LG — Shane Skwarlo, sr.; C — Kyle Flachsbarth, jr.; RG — Zach Rasys, sr.; RT — Ryan Lutz, jr.
DT — Lovette Epelle, jr.; NT — Devon Buck, jr.; DT — Brandon Zeller, sr.; OLB — Matt Georgie, sr.; ILB — Jalen Nash, sr.; ILB — Jax Dineen, sr.; OLB — Ben Miller, jr.; CB — Oliver Paranjothi, sr.; CB — Jaxon Malone, sr.; FS — Keenan Garber, sr.; SS — Malik Berry, jr.
Prediction: Free State over Haysville-Campus
Tonganoxie at Paola
After dropping the first two games of the season, Tonganoxie has seemingly been unstoppable ever since.
But the Chieftains (7-2) will face their toughest test yet, as they travel to Paola (8-1) in the second round of the 4A playoffs. Paola’s lone loss came at the hands of Louisburg via a 25-7 decision. Louisburg actually handed THS its latest loss, as well, during a 27-7 contest in the second week of the regular season.
Senior running back Korbin Riedel has been at the forefront of the team’s resurgence. Riedel carried the ball a total of 10 times for 91 combined yards through the first two weeks. Since then, Riedel has carried the ball at least 29 times each game and strung seven-straight 100-yard performances together.
For the season, Riedel has recorded 1,395 yards and 16 touchdowns on 251 carries.
Prediction: Paola over Tonganoxie
Perry-Lecompton at Sabetha
Perry-Lecompton has faced few roadblocks this season en route to the second round of the 3A playoffs.
The Kaws (7-2) have been a high-scoring team during another strong season, scoring at least 24 points in all but one game. Perry-Lecompton will face a team responsible for one of its two losses, as it travels to Sabetha (9-0) at 7 p.m. Friday.
The defending 3A champs handed Perry-Lecompton a 35-33 loss during the third week of the regular season. The Kaws failed to convert a two-point conversion, which would have forced overtime in that showdown.
Perry-Lecompton also suffered a season-ending loss, 28-6, to Sabetha last year. The last time the Kaws were victorious in a meeting between these two teams was back in 2015.
Prediction: Sabetha over Perry-Lecompton
Last week: 6-0
Lisher nets award
FSHS head coach Bob Lisher was one of two coaches to earn Coach of the Week honors from the Kansas City Chiefs this week. Bill Utz, of Platte County, also received the award, which was announced Wednesday.
photo by: Nick Krug
Both schools received a player health and safety grant from the Hunt Family Foundation and a Gatorade sideline kit. Both coaches were also given an autographed football, which was signed by Chiefs head coach Andy Reid.
Lisher can now be considered for the Eric Driskell Coach of the Year award, which will be voted on later this fall. Last week, Free State notched a 61-8 win over Wichita North in the opening round of the 6A playoffs to move to 9-0 on the season.