Posts tagged with Free State

Football Game Tape: Week Seven

In a matchup between the top two teams in the Sunflower League standings, Lawrence High's football team learned why Shawnee Mission East is such a tough matchup for opponents.

The Lancers feature the top offense in the state, scoring 35 points in the first half on their way to a 48-26 victory over Lawrence. The way they run the flexbone offense is so much faster, more explosive than any other team in the league. Then their defense has the size and physicality to punish offenses.

In the first half, the Lions needed things to go right to keep up with the Lancers offensively. But a fumble on the first drive and an injury to junior quarterback Dante Jackson hurt those chances. Instead, SM East proved its among the elite teams in Class 6A this season, along with Derby and Blue Valley.

Fortunately for the Lions, they don't have much time to dwell on the loss. Not when the City Showdown is a few days away.

Free State's football team didn't play its best in a 28-14 road victory over Olathe East, when the Firebirds didn't create as much offense as they wanted.

It's likely just a matter of jumping out to a faster start. In the last four weeks, all wins, the Firebirds only have two offensive touchdowns in the first quarter.

The Firebirds are tied with SM East in the league standings and could earn a share of a league title for the first time since 2013. They lost to SM West in the first week, but that was technically an open date (choice to play any team) and didn't count toward the league standings. But of course, they have enough motivation for the upcoming City Showdown matchup without worrying about a league title.

"All the seniors remember last year and how we lost that game," FSHS senior Jay Dineen said. "It still leaves a feeling in my stomach that's just not good. We need to get that one back."

Now for a look ahead to next week:

Lawrence High at Free State on Friday at 7 p.m. — For the first time since 2013, the City Showdown returns to its spot as the last game of the regular season because of the end of the district playoff format. Free State, which has won eight of the last 10 rivalry games, leads the all-time series, 11-8. Lawrence High won last year's game, 14-12. We'll have much more coverage of the City Showdown throughout the week on ljworld.com.

After getting behind the Shawnee Mission East secondary, Lawrence High junior receiver Ekow Boye-Doe (12) hauls in a long pass for a touchdown during their game Friday night at LHS.

After getting behind the Shawnee Mission East secondary, Lawrence High junior receiver Ekow Boye-Doe (12) hauls in a long pass for a touchdown during their game Friday night at LHS. by John Young


If you're new to the blog, we're copying one of the popular features of KUsports.com, "Keegan's Ratings," where Sports Editor Tom Keegan ranks KU football and men's basketball players after every game he attends. These individual rankings are just one person's opinion, but it's a good way to look at how each person impacted each game.

Lawrence High football

  1. Trey Moore, sr. RB — In the first half, Moore had some success running the ball — rushing for 67 yards in the first half on 15 carries. He helped push the Lions across midfield on a couple of drives against a strong SM East front-seven. With the game out of hand, Moore didn’t stop running hard with two long touchdowns in the fourth quarter. Moore finished with 217 yard, 150 on his last three carries.

  2. Santino Gee, sr. LB — When SM East’s starting offense was on the field, the Lions only had three run plays that were stopped for no gain. Gee made two of those tackles, including a huge hit with his shoulder in the third quarter. He did a nice job of filling the gap on run plays up the middle and making tackles.

  3. Ekow Boye-Doe, sr. WR/CB — With the Lions struggling to find a rhythm on offense, Boye-Doe faked like he was run blocking, then ran past every defender for an easy 60-yard touchdown catch. His only negative was he fell down on the chest bump following the score. Boye-Doe finished with two catches for 68 yards.

  4. Jake Unruh, sr. DE — Unruh made some nice tackles around the line of scrimmage on a couple of run plays that went to his direction and he provided a decent pass rush on a couple of drop backs.

  5. Dante Jackson, jr. QB/CB — The biggest theme in Lawrence’s two losses this season is that Jackson had to exit because of an injury. He was under pressure on nearly every pass attempt, dancing around in the backfield like a punt returner before throwing the ball (6 of 8 for 114 yards). The Lancers did a good job of keeping him from running too much and they certainly hit him as much as possible on option plays.

  6. Clarence King, soph. WR — Trailing by 15 points in the second quarter, Jackson heaved up a toss when he was under heavy pass pressure on 4th-and-18 and King caught a jump ball over a defender to the one-yard line for a critical first down. The Lions scored on the next play to cut the score to 21-12 before the Lancers scored a pair of touchdowns to end the first half. King had two catches for 36 yards.

  7. James Reeder, sr. DB —Forced a punt during the first quarter with a key tackle on 3rd-and-6, which was SM East’s fifth or sixth punt of the year. Reeder did a nice job in pass coverage, breaking up a pair of passes included a toss near the end zone in the third quarter.

  8. Jaxon Malone, soph. CB — Filling in for Jackson at cornerback after his injury, Malone made some nice tackles in the run game, including a sweep to the outside in the second half to force 4th-and-long.

  9. Erik Shackelford, sr. LB — The speedy linebacker flew to the ball and made some nice tackles on run plays. The Lancers went with a short kickoff strategy, mostly kicking to Shackelford who did a nice job of holding onto the ball and he started to make some decent returns in the second half.

  10. Mark Greene, sr. DT — Greene, along with BJ Murry and (I believe) Kaiden Ambrose, made some key tackles for short gains up the middle. The problem is it’s so difficult to stop the Lancers in the backfield because they are always running downhill.

    — Rankings from Bobby Nightengale

Free State football

  1. David Johnson, jr. LB — The Free State linebacker had a nose for the football in Friday night's road matchup against Olathe East. Johnson forced one of three Olathe East fumbles. The Free State junior also snuffed out a bootleg when the Hawks went for it on 4th-and-3, and came up with a tackle just short of the line to gain to force a turnover on downs.

  2. Zion Bowlin, sr. RB — Bowlin wasn't pleased with his performance, but he still did plenty to get the Firebirds in the win column. The physical running back scored on a 61-yard touchdown run, and had 152 yards on 26 carries. Outside of the breakaway touchdown run, many of Bowlin's yards came after contact.

  3. Gage Foster, jr. LB — While the Hawks did not air it out much, they did not have much time to do so anyway thanks to Foster. The junior linebacker had a sack, a stop for no gain and had two near sacks of Olathe East backup quarterback Hunter Thomas that ended up being incompletions. Foster also played a big role in stopping the run.

  4. Jay Dineen, sr. LB — Dineen was at the center of containing the Hawks' flexbone-style offense, grabbing an interception late in the first half. The Free State senior was also able to get to the quarterback when the Hawks dropped back to pass. Dineen helped take down OE starting quarterback Will Scofield in the second quarter, and force a fumble that was recovered by the Firebirds. Scofield remained on the turf for 20 minutes before being carted off the field, but tweeted, "Thank you everyone for keeping me in your prayers and for the support it really mean a lot and I appreciate it," following the game.

  5. Zack Sanders, sr. WR — Sanders hauled in a team-high five receptions for 99 yards. His first two catches were just before the end of the first half while the Hawks were in a prevent defense, but they were big completions to build Free State quarterback Dallas Crittenden's confidence after he struggled to hit his receivers.

  6. Kameron Lake, so. K — Lake had plenty of distance his two successful field goals of 31 and 40 yards. His lone miss never had a chance with it being blocked by a Hawks player that was unblocked off of the edge.

  7. Drew Wise, sr. LB — Wise came up with the fumble recovery on the play that Scofield was injured on. The Free State linebacking corps has been solid while the Firebirds try to patch up some holes in the secondary.

  8. Dallas Crittenden, sr. QB — Crittenden did not have his best game throwing the ball, but he made a couple of big plays with his legs to prolong drives. The senior quarterback rushed for 42 yards and a touchdown on five carries, and also threw for a score late in the fourth quarter.

  9. Daniel Bryant, sr. WR — Bryant was the recipient of Crittenden's 36-yard touchdown pass over the middle. It was one of two catches for Bryant.

  10. Nathan Spain, jr. NT/C — Spain started at nose tackle in place of Sam Hambleton, and helped stuff the Hawks run game. The Firebirds were disciplined for much of the night on both the offensive and defensive lines, as Free State only committed four penalties for 35 yards.

    — Rankings from Chris Duderstadt

    David Johnson (31) wraps up Trevon Kearney in first half action as Free State played Olathe East Friday at ODAC.

    David Johnson (31) wraps up Trevon Kearney in first half action as Free State played Olathe East Friday at ODAC. by Kevin Anderson/Special to the Journal-World


It's the last week of the regular season and here is a look at the current playoff standings:

If the season ended today, Lawrence High would be the No. 3 seed in the East bracket and would play No. 14 seed Olathe North in the first round at home, but of course, that's likely to change in the next week. The Lions can't improve their seed this week, but could drop to fourth with a loss.

The Firebirds are the No. 6 seed in the West bracket and could jump to as high as fourth with a victory. With a loss, the Firebirds could drop to seventh, depending on how Washburn Rural plays next week, but they are guaranteed a home game. If the season ended today, Free State would play No. 11 seed Dodge City in the first round.

6A East football playoff standings/Kpreps.com

6A East football playoff standings/Kpreps.com by Bobby Nightengale



6A West football playoff standings/Kpreps.com

6A West football playoff standings/Kpreps.com by Bobby Nightengale


As always, feel free to comment, email me, or find me on Twitter @nightengalejr.

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Football Game Tape: Week Six

Through the first few weeks of the season, Free State football team's main focus was fixing a few holes in its secondary after giving up some big plays.

The Firebirds saw the benefits of their hard work with a 35-0 victory against Olathe Northwest. It was the second shutout of the season and they've only allowed a combined 17 points in the past three games.

One thing that was noticeable was the Firebirds' aggressiveness to jump routes. They played tight coverage on receivers but were ready to make a hit as soon as the ball arrived.

"It was very rewarding," FSHS coach Bob Lisher said. "Our guys have been working hard and they haven’t had the payoff that they needed. But tonight, we played pretty good in the secondary and I think we played pretty good defensively overall."

Lawrence High's football team started fast in a 42-10 rout over Olathe South. The offense scored three touchdowns in the first quarter and the defense matched the intensity to give the Lions a 35-0 by halftime.

Averaging 8.9 yards per rushing attempt says a lot about Lawrence's offensive line, which had zero returning starters to begin the season.

But with some new faces and players in new roles because of injuries throughout the year on the O-line, the Lions proved they are only getting stronger.

“Our offensive line was tremendous again,” LHS quarterback Dante' Jackson said. “They do it day-in and day-out. They really don’t get enough credit for it.”

Now for a look ahead to next week:

Free State at Olathe East, at ODAC, on Friday at 7 p.m. — The Hawks (2-4) have lost two games by seven points and they've struggled to sustain much offense — scoring more than three touchdowns in only one game this year. O-East junior Will Scofield (unrelated to the main character in Prison Break) is the top running back with 290 yards and six touchdowns. On defense, junior Camron Mitchell-Johnson averages a team-best 9.5 tackles per game.

Shawnee Mission East at Lawrence High on Friday at 7 p.m. — Ranked No. 3 in the state, the Lancers (5-1) have the highest-scoring offense in Class 6A with a potent run game led by Nigil Houston, a transfer from SM West and second-team all-Sunflower League pick last year. Quarterback Luke Kaiser has thrown for several touchdowns this year, including a 54-yard pass to Sky Tate last week.

Free State's Noah Kema (8) receives a pass Friday night against the Olathe Northwest Ravens at FSHS. The Firebirds won, 35-0.

Free State's Noah Kema (8) receives a pass Friday night against the Olathe Northwest Ravens at FSHS. The Firebirds won, 35-0. by Sam Goodwin/Special to the Journal-World


If you're new to the blog, we're copying one of the popular features of KUsports.com, "Keegan's Ratings," where Sports Editor Tom Keegan ranks KU football and men's basketball players after every game he attends. These individual rankings are just one person's opinion, but it's a good way to look at how each person impacted each game.

Lawrence High football

  1. Trey Moore, sr. RB — Moore made sure the Lions would not falter in the first half this time around. The senior back scored all three of his touchdowns in the first quarter en route to a 180 yard night on 20 carries.

  2. Dante Jackson, jr. QB/CB — Jackson was electric in the route, running the ball 13 times for 160 yards and two scores. He effectively ran the option all night, knowing when exactly to keep it and pitch it to Moore.

  3. Jake Unruh, sr. DE — Multiple times Olathe South chose to run to the short side of the field in order to avoid Unruh’s side on the defensive line. Unruh was constantly in the backfield in the lopsided affair and maintained the Eagles’ offensive attack.

  4. Azariah LeBrun, sr. LB — Olathe South faced mostly reserves in the second half and ended up accumulating 307 yards on 44 carries. LeBrun anchored a linebacker unit that helped keep the Eagles out of the end zone for much of the game.

  5. BJ Murry, sr. DT — After surrendering a nine-play drive on the defense’s first stance, the Lions stiffened and locked down the Eagles attack. Murry and the rest of the defensive line met them at the scrimmage forcing three consecutive three-and-outs following that first drive.

  6. Jacob Mills, jr. C — Even without starting right guard Jesse Tunget, Lawrence High amassed 418 yards on the ground on 47 attempts. That was due to major continuations such as Mills from the offensive line, who stepped up in Tunget’s absence.

  7. Jaxon Malone, soph. CB — The Eagles were unable to get anything going through the air thanks to the play of Malone. LHS limited its opponent to just 38 passing yards on the night after the team threw for 127 the week before against Free State.

  8. Clarence King, soph. WR — King was once again Jackson’s favorite target as King led the team in catches with three for 28 yards. In addition, King’s down the field blocking proved to be crucial on the team’s long runs.

  9. Kristian Russell, jr. LT — Russell manned Jackson’s blind side all night as the quarterback complete 6-of-8 passes for 52 yards and a score. Lawrence High also ran a number of it’s running plays to the left side of the line.

  10. Cole Brungardt, sr. K — Brungardt knocked in all six of extra point attempts after booting all four of his attempts in last week.

    — Rankings from Shane Jackson

Free State football

  1. Gabe del Valle, jr. CB — Del Valle played as good of a game as you can ask from a defensive back. He grabbed an interception and broke up three passes. One of his best tackles was in the second quarter when the Ravens attempted a screen pass to Del Valle’s side and he had a receiver in front of him to block. Del Valle shed the block and made the tackle in space for no gain, forcing a punt two plays later. The Firebirds scored on the next possession.

  2. Zion Bowlin, sr. RB/DB — In the secondary, Bowlin was a big part of Free State’s blanket coverage, forcing 18 incompletions and giving up only 51 yards. On offense, Bowlin ran for 132 yards and a touchdown on 18 attempts, including a 65-yard rush to the two-yard line.

  3. Zack Sanders, sr. WR/CB — With two touchdowns in the second half, Sanders has scored a ridiculous nine touchdowns in the past three weeks. He caught seven passes for 52 yards, but was swarmed by defenders on underneath routes. Defensively, he broke up one long pass with a huge hit with his shoulder to knock the ball out of a receiver’s hands.

  4. Noah Kema, sr. DT/TE — Along with strong coverage in the secondary, Kema provided strong pass rush and was constantly in the backfield. He recorded at least a pair of tackles around the line of scrimmage and forced an intentional grounding penalty on one pass rush. At tight end, Kema made three catches for 40 yards.

  5. Chase Houk, sr. LT — After hearing from coaches at halftime about picking up the intensity, Free State’s offensive line dominated the line of scrimmage in the second half, especially the left side with Houk. The Firebirds ran for 236 yards (5.9 yards per carry) and provided a strong pocket for QB Dallas Critteden.

  6. Jay Dineen, sr. LB/LG — One of the best run defenses in the Sunflower League starts with Dineen finding his way into the backfield to make tackles. He batted down at least one pass at the line of scrimmage to help out his secondary, too. All that was along with some key blocks on the offensive line.

  7. Daniel Bryant, sr. WR/CB — Bryant caught a 34-yard pass in the second quarter to the six-yard line, breaking a tackle on a slant route. Two plays later, it turned into the Firebirds’ first touchdown. At cornerback, he provided nice coverage and dropped an interception after jumping a route in the third quarter.

  8. Jax Dineen, so. RB/LB — A punishing runner for defenders, Dineen ran for 61 yards and a touchdown on seven carries. That included a 49-yard run in the fourth quarter with a nice cut up the middle of the field. Dineen added several tackles at linebacker and a half-sack.

  9. Dallas Crittenden, sr. QB — Crittenden found his rhythm in the second half, taking the throws that Olathe Northwest’s defense allowed and not forcing any passes. He completed 16 of his 24 passes for 189 yards, two touchdowns and one interception. On his touchdown throw in the fourth quarter, he did a great job of scrambling before finding Sanders in the back of the end zone.

  10. Nick Eddis, sr. DT — Played well on the defensive line, helping stuff Olathe Northwest’s run game. At the beginning of the fourth quarter, Eddis made a tackle on an option pitch. Then on the next play, fourth down, he combined on a sack with Jax Dineen for a turnover on downs.

    — Rankings from Bobby Nightengale

    Jake Unruh (7) got his fingers on the ball to deflect a pass in the first half as Lawrence High played Olathe South Friday at ODAC.

    Jake Unruh (7) got his fingers on the ball to deflect a pass in the first half as Lawrence High played Olathe South Friday at ODAC. by Kevin Anderson/Special to the Journal-World


With only two weeks left in the regular season, here is a look at the current playoff standings.

Note: For the first time since the 1980, KSHSAA isn't using a district playoff system. Instead it's an eight-game regular season before all of the teams are seeded 1 through 16 for the ninth game — the first round of the playoffs.

6A East playoff standings/Kpreps.com

6A East playoff standings/Kpreps.com by Bobby Nightengale



6A West playoff standings/Kpreps.com

6A West playoff standings/Kpreps.com by Bobby Nightengale


As always, feel free to comment, email me, or find me on Twitter @nightengalejr.

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Football Game Tape: Week Five

During the past two weeks, it would be hard to find a defense that has stopped the run better than Free State's football team.

The Firebirds have allowed opponents to rush for 80 yards on 59 attempts in their two-game winning streak, a minuscule 1.36 yards per carry.

When the Firebirds are keeping teams one-dimensional — and playing well on offense — they are tough to keep up with. Free State won 35-10 over Olathe South last week.

The Firebirds returned a lot of defensive players from last season, but it took them a few weeks to get comfortable playing alongside each other and they've adjusted for a few injuries.

Of course, it's easier to play defense when the offense is scoring — and senior Zack Sanders has made sure of that. Along with scoring 10 touchdowns this year, he's had two games with at least 200 receiving yards. To put that in perspective, the previous single-game school record was 187.

Lawrence High's football players didn't look great in the first half, but they made the necessary adjustments for a 28-7 victory at Olathe North.

It was like a battle of the eras with Lawrence featuring the new-school, no-huddle offense and platoons. Olathe North featured the old-school, flexbone offense that eats up a ton of clock and is just a run-at-you style.

"You know it’s going to be smashmouth," LHS coach Dirk Wedd said of playing O-North. "You better come with your work clothes on and roll up your sleeves because they are going to hit you."

Give plenty of credit to the Lions for improving their play in the second half. They didn't panic when the offense was a little out of rhythm. They didn't panic when they had trouble stopping the run in the first two quarters.

For a team that had a lot of question marks at the beginning of the season, it's easy to see this young team gaining confidence with each game and becoming much, much more dangerous for opponents.

Now for a look ahead to next week:

Olathe Northwest at Free State on Friday at 7 p.m. — Fresh off a 34-0 victory over Leavenworth, the Ravens (2-3) have won their past two games and found a rhythm offensively. Quarterback Easton Crupper has a strong arm, tossing a 79-yard TD pass last week. RB Drew Dumas scored two touchdowns against Leavenworth.

Lawrence High at Olathe South, at ODAC, on Friday at 7 p.m. — After a 25-point loss to Free State, Olathe South will continue its tour of Lawrence teams. The Falcons (1-4) struggled to create much offense against the Firebirds, but are led by dual-threat quarterback Nick Jouret, who threw for 127 yards and one score last week.

Clarence King (17) tries to elude a triple threat of Eagles as Lawrence played Olathe North on Friday night at ODAC.

Clarence King (17) tries to elude a triple threat of Eagles as Lawrence played Olathe North on Friday night at ODAC. by Kevin Anderson/Special to the Journal-World


If you're new to the blog, we're copying one of the popular features of KUsports.com, "Keegan's Ratings," where Sports Editor Tom Keegan ranks KU football and men's basketball players after every game he attends. These individual rankings are just one person's opinion, but it's a good way to look at how each person impacted each game.

Lawrence High football

  1. Jake Unruh, sr. DE — After changing his three-point stance, Unruh said he had one of his best weeks of practice this season. It transferred to the field and he made about eight tackles at the line of scrimmage or in the backfield. Perhaps his best moment came on O-North’s first drive of the second half. He made a tackle and was penalized for targeting. Two plays later, he drilled a running back for a six-yard loss, turning a negative into a positive.

  2. Trey Moore, sr. RB — After missing a game with a hand injury, Moore was dominant in the second half. He finished with 110 yards and two touchdowns on 23 attempts — 90 of those yards in the final two quarters with a few key third-down conversions.

  3. BJ Murry, sr. DT — When the Lions needed a stop midway through the fourth quarter, 4th-and-1 at the 25-yard line, Murry and fellow defensive tackle Mark Greene stood their ground for a crucial stop. Along with a few tackles at the line of scrimmage, Murry sacked O-North’s quarterback and forced a fumble for a 14-yard loss in the third quarter.

  4. Azariah LeBrun, sr. LB — LeBrun didn’t play football last season, but the Lions are sure happy to have him contributing this year. Always in the backfield, LeBrun had several tackles at the line of scrimmage or in the backfield. Then he added a tackle on a kickoff in open space for a three-yard loss and a pooch kick recovery at the end of the game to help the Lions keep the ball.

  5. Dante Jackson, jr. QB/CB — He didn’t have his best day throwing the ball and O-North’s defense was geared up to stop him, but credit to Jackson for finding a way to step up in the second half. On the first drive of the third quarter, he broke a few tackles to convert on a 3rd-and-10. Then he did the same on the team’s final drive, running for a 21-yard pickup on 3rd-and-1 to drain the clock. Jackson had 83 rushing yards and 82 passing yards.

  6. Samuel Bart, soph. DE — Filling in for an injured Eric Galbreath on the defensive line, Bart made some great plays. The 6-foot-4, 193-pound defensive end, Bart crushed an option pitch on 3rd-and-8 in the second quarter for a tackle in the backfield. He added another key stop in the backfield before halftime, forcing a punt.

  7. Jacob Mills, jr. C — In the first half, the Lions had four drives that were four plays or less and they were off the field in less than 91 seconds. Credit Mills and the rest of the LHS offensive line for making adjustments in the second half, helping the Lions dominate with their run game. The Lions averaged 6.2 yards per carry in the last two quarters.

  8. Clarence King, soph. WR — Jackson’s favorite target Friday, King caught three passes for 48 yards and drew three pass interference penalties. The 6-foot-1, 165-pound receiver is tough to stop in jump ball situations and he made the most of them. He also had one nice kick return negated by a holding penalty.

  9. Jaxon Malone, soph. CB — The Eagles only attempted two passes and one of them was a fade pass along the right sideline that was broken up by Malone at the end of the first half. It was the first play after O-North’s touchdown drive, so it helped stop momentum.

  10. Cole Brungardt, sr. K — Along with knocking in four extra points, the Birthday Boy stopped a potential kick-return touchdown with a nice play in open space in the third quarter. He also delivered a couple of perfect pooch kicks — one that recovered by the Lions and another that was caught out of bounds.

    — Rankings from Bobby Nightengale

Free State football

  1. Zack Sanders, sr. WR/CB — Sanders caught eight balls for 200 yards and three scores to lift the Firebirds past .500 for the first time all season. He has scored seven touchdowns over his last two games and remains the focal point on the offense.

  2. Dallas Crittenden, sr. QB — The Topeka Hayden transfer had one of his best performances at Free State, completing 15-of-20 passes for 244 yards and three scores. Crittenden even ran the ball nine times for a total of 47 yards.

  3. Jax Dineen, so. RB/LB — Due to an injury, Dineen’s workload on offense increased in the second half. After carrying the ball just twice in the first two quarters, Dineen finished with 10 attempts for 164 yards, including a 57-yard touchdown.

  4. Gage Foster, sr. RB/ROLB — Foster was constantly in the backfield taking Olathe South’s dual-threat quarterback Nick Jouret to the ground. In addition to keeping Jouret in check, Foster carried the ball seven times for 45 yards.

  5. Jay Dineen, sr. LB/LG — Dineen helped the Firebirds defensive front hold Jouret all night on his 16 rushing attempts. Jouret managed 33 positive yards, but was brought down behind the line of scrimmage multiple times, losing a total of 31 yards on the evening.

  6. Daniel Bryant, sr. WR/DB — With Sanders on the other side of the secondary, the Falcons targeted Bryant’s side through the air. Bryant held his own, as Olathe South managed just 127 passing yards. Bryant also hauled in four passes for 29 yards at receiver.

  7. Nathan Spain, jr. C — Spain spearheaded an offensive line which created enough holes for Free State to accumulate 310 yards on 37 rushes.

  8. Chase Houk, sr. LT — Houk and the rest of the line kept Crittenden upright throughout the game. He was especially important on a pair of long touchdown passes, both of which were 65 yards or more.

  9. Zion Bowlin, sr. RB/DB — The lead back returned to the Firebirds after missing the previous week because of an ankle injury. Bowlin toted the ball six times for 40 yards with a touchdown, before he got “dinged up” and missing the entire second half.

  10. Kameron Lake, so. K — Knocked in all five of his extra point attempts.

    — Rankings from Shane Jackson

    Free State High senior Jay Dineen, left, collars Olathe South quarterback Nick Jouret after a small gain  during the Firebirds' homecoming game Friday night at FSHS.

    Free State High senior Jay Dineen, left, collars Olathe South quarterback Nick Jouret after a small gain during the Firebirds' homecoming game Friday night at FSHS. by John Young


As always, feel free to comment, email me, or find me on Twitter @nightengalejr.

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Football Game Tape: Week Four

Lawrence High football players were upset about their loss against Lee's Summit West and were looking to make a statement when they played Shawnee Mission West.

That message was heard loud and clear.

The Lions were dominant with their no-huddle offense and rolled to a 49-19 victory over SM West. Defensively, they were just as strong with a great push up front by their linemen.

"They killed it today. Our D-line is amazing," junior quarterback/cornerback Dante Jackson said. "If we just play like that every game, there’s no way people are going to be able to put points on us."

The Lions had so many questions entering the season that it was hard to predict how they'd look early in the season. With a 3-1 record, they certainly deserve praise, like this column from Tom Keegan, for making all of their offseason changes work so well.

For Free State, senior Zack Sanders continued his dominant season with one of the best games in his career, scoring four touchdowns in a 41-7 victory against Shawnee Mission Northwest. He scored in every phase of the game with two touchdown catches, a punt return score and an interception return for a score.

Sanders is one of the state's leaders in receiving yards and he's becoming more dangerous on special teams and defense.

"We should've punted away from (Sanders) to start with," SM Northwest coach Bo Black told the Shawnee Dispatch. "Once he's in the open field, we're not catching him."

The Firebirds (2-2) didn't have their cleanest game in the secondary and a fumble at the goal line, but they bounced back with a strong first half after a loss to Park Hill. One great sign was the strength of their run game, averaging 6.3 yards per carry even without senior RB Zion Bowlin.

Now for a look ahead to next week:

Olathe South at Free State on Friday at 7 p.m. — With a 28-21 victory over Olathe East last week, the Falcons handed coach Craig Lewis his first career victory at the school. The Falcons (1-3) are led by quarterback Nick Jouret, who is a strong runner and scored three touchdowns in last week's win.

Lawrence High at Olathe North, at ODAC, on Friday at 7 p.m. — The Eagles (1-3) have their first losing record since 2012 after graduating a talented senior class. They've only completed two passes on offense this season, relying on running backs Deion Poindexter (366 yards and TD) and Jonya Boyd (259 yards and 3 TD), and quarterback Mason Myers (183 yards and 4 TD). Junior Ryan Huck is their leading tackler with 31 stops this season. They lost to Shawnee Mission East last week, 48-13.

Free State High sophomore Jax Dineen (33) pulls Shawnee Mission Northwest senior Xavier Perry (24) into the end zone with him during their game Friday night in Shawnee.

Free State High sophomore Jax Dineen (33) pulls Shawnee Mission Northwest senior Xavier Perry (24) into the end zone with him during their game Friday night in Shawnee. by John Young


If you're new to the blog, we're copying one of the popular features of KUsports.com, "Keegan's Ratings," where Sports Editor Tom Keegan ranks KU football and men's basketball players after every game he attends. These individual rankings are just one person's opinion, but it's a good way to look at how each person impacted each game.

Lawrence High football

  1. Dante Jackson, jr. QB/CB — Jackson set the tone early with a few tackles in the secondary, then airing the ball out on offense. He completed 10 of his 18 passes for 186 yards and two touchdowns. With the pass game working, he opened up the run game, running for 74 yards and two scores. But one play that sticks out was midway through the second quarter: He just threw an interception that was returned for a touchdown and on the next play, he blocked the extra point attempt.

  2. Ekow Boye-Doe, jr. WR/CB — Boye-Doe scored the first touchdown of his varsity career on the first drive of the second half, making a nine-yard grab over the middle. He ended up with five catches for 79 yards and he grabbed an interception in the fourth quarter when he said he cramped up, but fortunately the ball was tipped to him.

  3. Eric Galbreath, soph. DE — It’s hard to make a bigger impact on the defensive line than Galbreath did Friday. It seemed like every play he was in the backfield for a stop. I counted him with four tackles in the backfield, including one sack.

  4. Jake Unruh, sr. DE — The main mission for Lawrence’s defense was to keep SM West quarterback Zach Witters in the pocket so he couldn’t run loose for big plays. Unruh and Galbreath did it better than any other defensive front this season. Unruh constantly applied pass pressure and he recorded one sack and one pass breakup.

  5. James Reeder, sr. RB/DB — Starting at running back in place of injured Trey Moore, Reeder did a nice job of following his blockers and making nice cuts upfield. He scored on two long touchdown runs in the fourth quarter, ending up with 144 yards on 24 attempts. He added a critical 45-yard reception on a 3rd-and-14 on the first drive of the second half, setting up Boye-Doe's touchdown catch, and he partially blocked a punt.

  6. Santino Gee, sr. LB/RB — Reminding everybody of last year’s linebacking corps that had three seniors, Gee was flying around the field for tackles. He had four tackles for loss or at the line of scrimmage, one sack and one fumble recovery. On offense, he ran with some intensity, going for 31 yards on seven carries.

  7. Jalen Dudley, jr. WR — The 6-foot-2, 172-pound receiver finished with three catches for 56 yards, including an eight-yard touchdown catch along the right sideline in the first half. But his biggest catch was a jump ball at the end of the first quarter. Despite drawing a pass interference penalty, Dudley made the catch over a cornerback for a 31-yard pickup, setting up a touchdown run by Jackson.

  8. Erik Shackelford, sr. LB — Once again, Shackelford played well at linebacker and made stops at the line of scrimmage and in the secondary. At the beginning of the third quarter, he intercepted a pass that was tipped up into the air by Jackson. Two plays later, the Lions scored for a 34-6 lead.

  9. Jesse Tunget, sr. RG — In the fourth quarter, the Lions were running the ball with plenty of success and that was thanks to huge holes opened up by Tunget, Jacob Mills and Kevin Nichols on the right side of the line. The Lions averaged 5.7 yards per rush against a veteran defense.

  10. Mark Greene, sr. DT — With a 21-point lead in the fourth quarter, Greene shut the door on any comeback attempt when he ran past a blocker into the backfield, drilled SM West’s running back and forced a fumble that was picked up by Gee. Two plays later, it turned into a touchdown run by Reeder.

    — Rankings from Bobby Nightengale

Free State football

  1. Zack Sanders, sr. WR/CB — Sanders made a huge impact while leading the Firebirds back to the .500-mark by scoring four total touchdowns — two receiving, one pick-six and another on a punt return. He nearly had a second pick-six, but a block in the back penalty negated a would-be fifth touchdown for the two-way starter.

  2. Jax Dineen, so. RB/LB — Dineen did just about everything that Free State coach Bob Lisher could have asked of him while stepping into the starting running back role for an injured Zion Bowlin. Dineen averaged 7.6 yards per carry while running primarily between the tackles. The 5-foot 11-inch, 215-pound sophomore broke the century mark with 107 yards and a touchdown on 14 carries, and added a 12-yard score on a reception from Dallas Crittenden. Dineen's lone mishap came on a fumble just shy of the goal line that took away the chance for a third touchdown.

  3. Gage Foster, sr. RB/ROLB — While Sanders and Dineen combined to score all six of Free State's touchdowns, Foster did a lot of the dirty to set them up. Foster had 54 yards on 11 carries and chipped in 33 yards on three catches. Foster also provided a spark for the Firebirds linebacking corps, and had a sack on fourth down to end SM Northwest's last drive of the first half.

  4. Jay Dineen, sr. LB/LG — Dineen made his presence felt on the Cougars' first drive with a sack that went for a loss of 10 yards. The Free State linebacker also dropped back into coverage for a pair of pass break-ups.

  5. Dallas Crittenden, sr. QB — Crittenden's stat line wasn't jaw-dropping, but it didn't need to be. The Free State quarterback tossed two touchdowns to Sanders and another to Jax Dineen, while only throwing one interception. Crittenden also gave Free State's offense a big boost in the first quarter with a 40-plus yard run.

  6. Adam Tapp, jr. DT — Tapp had a near-sack in the first half when he wrapped up SM Northwest quarterback Spencer Stewart for no gain. The Free State defensive tackle over-powered the Cougars' under-sized offensive line.

  7. Noah Kema, sr. TE/DT — Kema had a fairly quiet night on the offensive side of the ball after a 21-yard catch in the first quarter, but he played a big role in anchoring the Firebird defensive front.

  8. Nathan Spain, jr. C — Spain helped the Firebirds control the line of scrimmage and was a big reason why Jax Dineen had large holes to run through for most of the night.

  9. Sam Hambleton, sr. NT — Hambleton and the Free State defensive line had a difficult challenge in front of them with stopping SM Northwest standout running back Xavier Perry. Hambleton was not fazed, though, as he helped the Firebirds bottle up Perry for 39 yards on 13 touches.

  10. Chase Houk, sr. LT — Houk sprung Crittenden free with a critical block on his long run in the first quarter, and also kept the senior quarterback upright by protecting his blind side.

    — Rankings from Chris Duderstadt

    Lawrence High School receiver Ekow Boye-Doe (12) catches a pass in the 1st quarter to set up a Lions touchdown in their win against Shawnee Mission West Friday night at LHS.

    Lawrence High School receiver Ekow Boye-Doe (12) catches a pass in the 1st quarter to set up a Lions touchdown in their win against Shawnee Mission West Friday night at LHS. by Mike Yoder/Special to the Journal-World


As always, feel free to comment, email me, or find me on Twitter @nightengalejr.

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Football Game Tape: Week Three

The first season of the Sunflower League/Suburban Conference Showdown turned into a beatdown with Missouri winning all 11 football games against Kansas teams.

Both of the games involving Lawrence High and Free State were close for the first 30 minutes until their opponents pulled away.

The Lions saw their momentum swing against them when a run to the five-yard line by Trey Moore was called back by a holding penalty. Two plays later, they lost QB Dante' Jackson to cramps in his leg and the offense never recovered in a 28-7 loss at Lee's Summit West.

Despite the loss, the Lions were thrilled with their defensive effort. The Titans had 404 yards of offense, but had trouble finding the end zone until midway through the second half because of red-zone stops by Lawrence's defense.

"Our defense stepped up big time," Moore said. "When the offense didn’t score or anything, the defense would stop them and they would give us hope. Defense just did a great job overall."

Free State's football team trailed by three points at halftime, but had trouble keeping up after a 93-yard touchdown pass in a 34-21 loss at Park Hill.

When the Firebirds were looking for key stops on defense, they just couldn't convert to get off of the field in the fourth quarter. On a fourth-and-one, Park Hill running back Dorian Clayton ran for a 26-yard touchdown. In the final minutes, a 3rd-and-10 turned into a 33-yard pass.

The Firebirds had some nice drives offensively, but were limited by sacks and penalties, which forced some punts. But one of the big positives was the growth of their run game against a tough Park Hill defense. Free State ran for 162 yards on 37 carries, averaging 4.4 yards per attempt.

Now for a look ahead to next week:

Free State at Shawnee Mission Northwest on Friday at 7 p.m. — The Cougars (0-3) lost 50-14 against Grandview (Mo.) last week. They are led by senior running back Xavier Perry, who has rushed for five touchdowns this season. He had 32 carries for 230 yards and three scores against LHS in Week One. Defensively, they have struggled, allowing at least 48 points in all three games.

Shawnee Mission West at Lawrence High on Friday at 7 p.m. — Featuring one of the top quarterbacks in the Sunflower League with Zach Witters, the Vikings (2-1) scored at least 40 points in their first two games before a 35-21 loss against Blue Springs (Mo.) last week. Witters has thrown for 628 yards and six touchdowns, and rushed for 304 yards and four scores. Montell Madlock leads the defense with 28 tackles.

Lawrence High junior Dante Jackson grabs onto the ankle of Lee's Summit West receiver Kevin Knox (31) while Santino Gee (25) comes to help with the tackle during their game Friday night in Lee's Summit, Mo. The Lions fell to the Titans, 28-7, and drop their record to 2-1 on the season.

Lawrence High junior Dante Jackson grabs onto the ankle of Lee's Summit West receiver Kevin Knox (31) while Santino Gee (25) comes to help with the tackle during their game Friday night in Lee's Summit, Mo. The Lions fell to the Titans, 28-7, and drop their record to 2-1 on the season. by John Young


If you're new to the blog, we're copying one of the popular features of KUsports.com, "Keegan's Ratings," where Sports Editor Tom Keegan ranks KU football and men's basketball players after every game he attends. These individual rankings are just one person's opinion, but it's a good way to look at how each person impacted each game.

Lawrence High football

  1. Erik Shackelford, sr. LB — On defense, it seemed like Shackelford was making a tackle on every play, sprinting from sideline to sideline for stops. Using his speed to beat blockers to spots on the field, Shackelford had one tackle for loss, one tackle at the line of scrimmage and he drew a few holding penalties.

  2. James Reeder, sr. DB — With the Titans driving at the beginning of the second quarter, Reeder jumped up and grabbed an interception in the end zone. Along with his grab, he made some key stops in the run game, making tackles in open space.

  3. Jake Unruh, sr. DE — Unruh made at least two tackles for a loss, including a sack in the first quarter. Playing only on one side of the ball has helped him make a big difference on the defensive line, forcing extra attention with his ability to push aside blockers.

  4. Dante’ Jackson, jr. QB/CB — On the third play from scrimmage in the second half, Jackson faked a handoff to running back Trey Moore and sprinted up the middle — virtually untouched — for a 66-yard touchdown run. He exited midway through the third quarter after cramping up on a scramble, finishing with 105 rushing yards on 10 attempts.

  5. Clarence King, soph. WR/CB — Right after the Titans scored a touchdown in the third quarter for a 14-7 lead, King returned a kick 55 yards and gave the Lions the ball across midfield. King added one catch for six yards and had some great blocks on the perimeter to help his running backs.

  6. Azariah LeBrun, sr. LB — With the Titans in the red zone in the first quarter, LeBrun stepped up with a sack, which eventually helped force a missed field goal. He had at least three more tackles near the line of scrimmage, helping out Lawrence’s run defense.

  7. Trey Moore, sr. RB — Moore had to fight for every yard against Lee’s Summit West’s defense, which put extra attention on him. Playing through a hand injury, he finished with 91 yards on 20 attempts, not including a 37-yard run called back on a holding penalty.

  8. BJ Murry, sr. DT — The 5-foot-6, 199-pound defensive lineman did a nice job clogging running lanes in the first half, allowing linebackers to run to the ball without having to fight through blockers.

  9. Santino Gee, sr. LB — In the secondary, Gee made a few key stops when he was the last man to beat. When the Titans went to their run game, Gee made a couple of nice tackles in open space.

  10. Samuel Bart, soph. DL — At the end of the first quarter, the Titans were facing 3rd-and-7 from the 29-yard line looking for their first score. On a pitch, Bart stuffed the play in the backfield for a five-yard loss. The next play turned into an interception by Reeder.

    — Rankings from Bobby Nightengale

Free State football

  1. Zack Sanders, sr. WR/CB — Showed off his explosiveness with an 82-yard punt return touchdown in the first quarter on a reverse, taking a handoff from Zion Bowlin. Once defenders had to change direction, there was no chance they were going to chase down Sanders. Once again, he was dominant on offense with eight catches for 65 yards.

  2. Jax Dineen, so. RB/LB — The Sunflower League’s version of Jerome Bettis, Dineen uses his 5-11, 215-pound frame to bounce off of tacklers. He had nine carries for 47 yards, including a three-yard touchdown run in the fourth quarter. Along with his strong runs, he had several strong tackles at the line of scrimmage while playing linebacker.

  3. Jay Dineen, sr. LB/LG — Dineen probably made his biggest impact of the season at linebacker with several tackles in the backfield. He had a half-sack on the Park Hill’s first drive and didn’t stop from there, including three tackles in a four-play stretch in the third quarter when the Trojans drove into FSHS territory.

  4. David Johnson, jr. LB — A heat-seeking missile at linebacker, Johnson was everywhere on Saturday making plays. That included a tackle on a 58-yard kick return by Park Hill, likely saving a touchdown. During one drive in the second quarter, he made two tackles at the line of scrimmage, helping force a punt.

  5. Zion Bowlin, sr. RB/DB — Bowlin was given some nice holes by his offensive line and he made the most of them. The 5-foot-9 senior rushed for 80 yards and a touchdown on 16 carries, sprinting past defenders on his 31-yard touchdown run in the second quarter. However, he injured his ankle on Free State’s first play in the second half and he didn’t take another snap at running back.

  6. Noah Kema, sr. DT/TE — Kema fought past blockers on his way to 1.5 sacks and at least four tackles at the line of scrimmage or in the backfield. His only negative was on his seven-yard catch in the first quarter, fumbling after crossing the first down marker, but luckily, he was able to recover the ball.

  7. Drew Wise, sr. LB/TE — The 6-foot-2, 245-pound long-snap specialist rushed off of the edge for a sack in the first quarter and he showed off his speed by making a tackle on a bubble screen pass.

  8. Bo Miller, jr. WR/FS — When the Firebirds were looking for a big play in the first half, Miller caught a 27-yard pass to help his team near midfield, eventually leading to a touchdown run by Bowlin. On defense, Miller had a nice tackle in the fourth quarter.

  9. Dallas Crittenden, sr. QB — Facing a strong pass rush, Crittenden did a nice job of moving his feet around in the pocket and finding throwing angles. He completed 11 of his 17 passes for 114 yards and he had a 47-yard run in the fourth quarter, which set up Jax Dineen’s touchdown run.

  10. Vani Martinez, jr. DB — Martinez made some nice tackles on defense and special teams, doing a great job of staying in his lane on a kick return to make a tackle. He’s improving at blowing up plays on short screen passes.

    — Rankings from Bobby Nightengale

    Zion Bowlin lunges into the end zone for a score in the first half Friday as Free State played Park Hill in Kansas City, Mo.

    Zion Bowlin lunges into the end zone for a score in the first half Friday as Free State played Park Hill in Kansas City, Mo. by Kevin Anderson/Special to the Journal-World


As always, feel free to comment, email me, or find me on Twitter @nightengalejr.

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Football Game Tape: Week Two

Following their first win of the season, the main message from Free State High football players was they were happy but not satisfied.

The Firebirds dominated on both sides of the ball in a 38-0 victory at Shawnee Mission South, holding the Raiders to only 113 yards of offense. For their own offense, the Firebirds were a little up and down, but they scored on three of their first four drives of the second half.

"Any time you put up a goose egg, that’s a good thing," senior Daniel Bryant said. "We still know we can get better. Less penalties and play better football."

After a scoreless second quarter, the Firebirds heard plenty from their coaches in the locker room at halftime, but they responded well to everything that was said. It's not easy to keep focus for an entire game when it has a blowout feel to it, but Free State coaches know it's necessary to keep pushing.

"Some games we’re going to need it for 48 minutes like we did last week," FSHS coach Bob Lisher said. "Luckily, we didn’t this week."

Entering Friday night, the biggest questions for Lawrence High's football team were how could they stop SM North quarterback Will Schneider and keep pace on offense?

The Lions answered both questions emphatically, bringing pressure with their defensive fronts and providing strong coverage in the secondary. In addition to strong defense, they recorded 611 yards of offense in a 52-36 victory.

Lawrence's competition will only become tougher in the next two weeks, but one good sign for the future was the passing game. Dante' Jackson completed 11 passes for 180 yards, which should help open up the run game against tougher defensive fronts.

Now for a look ahead to next week, which marks the first-ever matchups in the Sunflower League/Suburban Conference showdown:

Free State at Park Hill on Friday at 7 p.m. — A team filled with plenty of Div. I talent, the Trojans (2-2) have suffered a couple of losses against top teams in Missouri. Their leading tackler, four-star defensive end Chester Graves, is the top-ranked recruit in the KC area, boasting offers from KU, K-State, Ohio State, Wisconsin, Iowa and more. Park Hill's top linebacker Seven Wilson is also drawing interest after breaking the school record for tackles last season. Offensively, the Trojans are led by junior QB Billy Maples, who is completing 70 percent of his passes for 655 yards and five TDs.

Lawrence High at Lee's Summit West on Friday at 7 p.m. — The Titans (2-2) have only suffered losses against teams ranked in the top-10 in the state, including a one point loss to #2-ranked Blue Springs. In the first three games, senior QB Cole Taylor was 32-of-66 for 568 passing yards, eight touchdowns and four interceptions. Zach Shanholtzer is the top receiver with 12 catches for 209 yards and 3 TDs. On defense, Spencer Etters is averaging nearly 14 tackles per game.

Free State High senior Sam Hambleton (56) leads the charge as they Firebird defense stops Shawnee Mission South quarterback Deonte Carroll (7) behind the line during their game Friday evening in Overland Park. The Firebirds jumped out to a 21-0 first quarter lead and never looked back, winning 38-0.

Free State High senior Sam Hambleton (56) leads the charge as they Firebird defense stops Shawnee Mission South quarterback Deonte Carroll (7) behind the line during their game Friday evening in Overland Park. The Firebirds jumped out to a 21-0 first quarter lead and never looked back, winning 38-0. by John Young


If you're new to the blog, we're copying one of the popular features of KUsports.com, "Keegan's Ratings," where Sports Editor Tom Keegan ranks KU football and men's basketball players after every game he attends. These individual rankings are just one person's opinion, but it's a good way to look at how each person impacted each game.

Lawrence High football

  1. Dante' Jackson, jr. QB/CB — All four of Jackson's touchdowns came on the ground, but the quarterback made some big strides in the passing game from Week 1 to Week 2. Jackson did have one interception, but he was fairly accurate outside of that — completing 11 of 17 passes for 180 yards. The junior QB wasn't afraid to air it out to receivers like Pakow Boye-Doe either. Jackson also rushed for 105 on five carries.

  2. Trey Moore, sr. RB — Moore has made it look easy in the backfield in the first two weeks. The 5-foot, 10-inch 180-pound back rushed for 237 yards on 28 carries and three touchdowns, and would have had a fourth score on a 99-yard run if it had not been for a holding penalty.

  3. Jake Unruh, sr. DL — Unruh led a much-needed pass rush for the Lions to make SM North quarterback Will Schneider uncomfortable in the pocket. The senior defensive end had two sacks, and also blocked a pooch punt by Schneider.

  4. Clarence King, so. CB — When Schneider looked like he was getting in a rhythm after struggling on the Indians' first few possessions, King halted SM North's best drive with an interception when SM North was on the fringe of the red zone.

  5. BJ Murry, sr. DL — When Unruh wasn't wreaking havoc in the backfield, Murry and fellow defensive tackle Mark Greene were applying pressure up the middle. Murry had a sack in the first quarter to help set the tone defensively for LHS.

  6. Jacob Mills, jr. OL — Mills anchored an offensive line that dominated the line of scrimmage from wire-to-wire. The LHS center helped pave large holes for Moore, Jackson and backup running back James Reeder to run through all night.

  7. Cole Brungardt, sr. K — Brungardt has been automatic on his extra points this season, and he had the chance to show off his leg on Friday. Brungardt drilled a 37-yard field goal to end the first half, and it had the distance to be good from much longer.

  8. Pakow Boye-Doe, jr. WR — Boye-Doe and the Lions receiving corps haven't needed to make a big impact in the first two weeks with Moore and Jackson doing damage on the ground. Boye-Doe did his best to prove that the LHS wideouts have big-play making ability as well by hauling in six receptions for 64 yards.

  9. Mark Greene, sr. DL — Greene burst through the Indians offensive line for a big tackle-for-loss on the opening drive of the game. Greene's quickness at defensive tackle had the Indians O-Line on their toes. The Indians had 13 penalties for 100 yards, and several of those were false start or holding calls on the SM North offensive line.

  10. Caleb Mondi, so. WR — Mondi only had one catch, but he made the most of it. The sophomore wideout caught a pass from Jackson right by the LHS sideline on a quick out route, but he turned on the jets to turn it into a 76-yard touchdown.

    — Rankings from Chris Duderstadt

Free State football

  1. Vani Martinez, jr. FS — Martinez has certainly made a name for himself in the past two weeks with big hits. But he did more than that last week, grabbing two interceptions in the second half and forcing a fumble on kickoff coverage. His first interception was tipped in the air by teammate David Johnson and Martinez swooped in for the snag. He also made some nice tackles at the line of scrimmage on run defense.

  2. Gage Foster, jr. LB/RB — Every time there was pressure on the quarterback or a stop in the backfield, Foster was usually nearby. I counted at least two tackles for loss and a pass broken up in the backfield. Then there was his interception and a fumble he forced on a kickoff. On offense, he had 36 rushing yards and 11 receiving yards.

  3. Zion Bowlin, sr. RB/SS — The powerful 5-foot-9, 200-pound running back didn’t break many long runs (he had a 28-yarder during the first quarter) but he kept the chains moving, finishing with 85 yards on 13 carries and two touchdowns. In space, he’s tough to stop because he runs with such force.

  4. Zack Sanders, sr. WR/CB — One week after breaking a few school single-game records, Sanders caught three passes for 55 yards, including a nice 27-yard touchdown grab. On the touchdown, Sanders reached over a defender for the score. Defensively, he made some strong tackles in open space, defended well in coverage and grabbed an interception on an overthrow.

  5. Daniel Bryant, sr. WR/CB — He found holes in the defense and made the Raiders pay with some big grabs, ending the game with five receptions for 84 yards. He had a 28-yard catch on the final play of the third quarter, pushed out of bounds at the one-yard line. In coverage, Bryant blanketed SM South receivers, forcing incompletions.

  6. Dallas Crittenden, sr. QB — Crittenden made some smart decision on read options, running for 15 yards and two touchdowns on five attempts. For the second straight week, he was strong in the pocket — his offensive line gave him plenty of protection on a few throws — finishing with 175 yards on 12-of-19 passing for a touchdown and interception.

  7. Jay Dineen, sr. LB/LG — He was all over the field on defense, punishing linemen to fight his way into the backfield for at least a few tackles at the line of scrimmage. On SM South’s first series, Dineen broke into the backfield and forced a fumble. But on the flip side, he had two personal foul penalties for a horse-collar tackle and roughing the passer within two plays of each other.

  8. Sam Hambleton, sr. DL — Stuffing the middle of the field, Hambleton was a big reason why the Raiders only averaged 2.8 yards per rushing attempt. He clogged running lanes, shed blockers and was in position to make a few tackles.

  9. Jalen Nash, soph. RB — When the Raiders fumbled on a kickoff return, Nash grabbed the ball and nearly took it to the end zone before he made an illegal forward lateral trying to flip the ball to a teammate for a touchdown. In the fourth quarter, Nash had seven rushing attempts for 37 yards.

  10. Drew Wise, sr. LB/TE — Wise jumped on a fumble on SM South’s second play from scrimmage, which turned into a six-yard touchdown run by Bowlin. He also made strong snaps at long snapper, and on offense, he made a 13-yard catch in the first quarter.

    — Rankings from Bobby Nightengale

    James Murray (19) right, sacks Shawnee Mission North quarterback Will Schneider in the Lawrence Lions win against Shawnee Mission North Friday night at LHS.

    James Murray (19) right, sacks Shawnee Mission North quarterback Will Schneider in the Lawrence Lions win against Shawnee Mission North Friday night at LHS. by Mike Yoder


In case you missed it, I posted a blog about all of the former Lawrence High and Free State football players competing at the collegiate level. Here is a quick look at all of their statistics: http://bit.ly/2c4fDoR.


As always, feel free to comment, email me, or find me on Twitter @nightengalejr.

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Alumni watch: College football

College football season is a couple of weeks old and for a long list of Lawrence natives, it means they are back on the field.

Most of these former Lawrence High and Free State players are about two weeks into their season, and here's a look at how they've been playing (stats through Sunday, Sept. 11, but some websites weren't completely up to date):

Peter Afful, Hutchinson CC (Lawrence High): DNP

Amani Bledsoe, Oklahoma (Lawrence High): 1 game, 2 assisted tackles, 1 pass breakup

Kharon Brown, Baker (Lawrence High): 3 games, 20 tackles (6 solo), 0.5 tackles for loss

Reid Buckingham, Emporia State (Free State): No stats; long snapper

Anthony Buffalomeat, Emporia State (Lawrence High): 2 games, 3 catches for 31 yards

TJ Cobbs, Ottawa (Free State): 2 games, 4 rushes for 9 yards, 1 solo tackle

Joe Dineen, Kansas (Free State): 2 games, 14 tackles (9 solo), 3 tackles for loss, 1 pass breakup

Scott Frantz, Kansas State (Free State): No stats; starting at left tackle

Jalen Galloway, Highland CC (Free State): 2 games, 2 assisted tackles

Michael Georgie, Fort Scott CC (Free State): No stats

Trey Georgie, Illinois State (Lawrence High): DNP

Tanner Green, Baker (Lawrence High): 1 game, 1 assisted tackle

Cole Greenwood, Independence CC (Lawrence High): 1 game, 7 tackles (6 solo)

Drake Hofer, William Jewell (Lawrence High): 1 game, 1 catch for 24 yards and a touchdown

Ivan Hollins, Baker (Lawrence High): DNP

Tye Hughes, Baker (Free State): 2 games, 1 catch for 12 yards, 1 punt return for 14 yards, 1 kick return for 21 yards

Matt Jacobsen, Highland CC (Lawrence High): DNP

Asaph Jewsome, Baker (Lawrence High): 1 game, 1 solo tackle

Alex Jones, Pittsburg State (Lawrence High): No stats; starting at right guard

Nate Koehn, Butler CC (Lawrence High): DNP

Darian Lewis, Hutchinson CC (Free State): 1 game, 1 catch for 32 yards

Tanner Liba, Butler CC (Free State): DNP

Keith Loneker Jr., Kansas (Free State): 2 games, 2 tackles, 1 pass breakup, 1 quarterback hurry

Logan McKinney, William Jewell (Free State): DNP

Price Morgan, Air Force (Lawrence High): DNP

Joshua Seybert, Baker (Lawrence High): DNP

Kieran Severa, Drake (Lawrence High): No stats; has played in two games

Sam Skwarlo, Kansas (Free State): DNP

Brad Strauss, William Jewell (Lawrence High): 2 games, 31-for-54, 348 passing yards, 3 TD, 109 rushing yards, 2 TD

Garrett Swisher, Highland CC (Free State): DNP

Bryce Torneden, Kansas (Free State): No stats; appeared in two games primarily on special teams

Nick Williams, Independence CC (Lawrence High): DNP

Kyle Wittman, Baker (Lawrence High): No stats

JD Woods, Missouri Western (Lawrence High): DNP

Fred Wyatt, Northwestern (Free State): 2 games, 5 tackles (2 solo), 0.5 tackles for loss, 1 pass breakup


As always, feel free to comment, email me, or find me on Twitter @nightengalejr. If I forgot somebody (probably), please let me know and I'll add him to the list.

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Football Game Tape: Week One

Heading into the first game of the season, high school football coaches usually agree they need to see their team play a game before they can gauge how they look.

Lawrence High coach Dirk Wedd said he was entering this season with more question marks than any other season in his 18-year career. That's the result of a new no-huddle offense, platooning linemen and so many new faces at key positions.

So it probably meant a lot that the Lions could jump to a fast start and roll to a 50-20 victory over Shawnee Mission Northwest in their season opener. They scored 23 points in the first quarter via offense (Dante' Jackson and Trey Moore TD runs), special teams (Erik Shackelford blocked punt return) and defense (safety from BJ Murry).

Now, the biggest question is whether the Lions can continue what they started against top competition. Their schedule only gets harder with SM North, Lee's Summit West and SM West in the next three weeks.

Free State's football team lost a thriller against SM West, 41-40. The Firebirds were one play away from a win before the Vikings scored the game-winning touchdown with 28 seconds left, forcing two fourth-and-long plays.

Of course, the Firebirds were disappointed by the loss, but FSHS coach Bob Lisher said he was still high on his team. The Firebirds posted 40 points against a team ranked fifth in Class 6A and fought back from a 14-point deficit in the first quarter to take the lead before halftime.

“I thought our team played well and that team played well,” Lisher added. “That was a battle of two heavyweights. Those are two pretty good football teams going at it. I think we just made a few more mistakes.”

Now for a look ahead to next week:

Free State at Shawnee Mission South on Friday at 7 p.m. — After winning only one game last season, the Raiders (0-1) opened the 2016 season with a 38-7 loss to SM North. The Firebirds scrimmaged against SM South a few times throughout the summer, so there is some familiarity between the players. The Raiders, coached by longtime FSHS assistant Brett Oberzan, returned about seven starters on both sides of the ball from last year.

Shawnee Mission North at Lawrence High on Friday at 7 p.m. — The Indians (1-0) opened the season with a 38-7 win over SM South. They are led by senior quarterback Will Schneider, a four-year starter, who threw for four touchdowns last week. On the ground, Schneider ran for 120 yards and a score. The Lions know plenty about Schneider, facing him in the first round of the playoffs last season (323 passing yards, 3 TD; 120 rushing yards, TD).

Lawrence High senior running back Trey Moore (38) gives Shawnee Mission Northwest defensive back Caleb Johnson (7) a stiff arm as he breaks away to score one of his four touchdowns during their game on Friday night at LHS. The Lions jumped out to a 23-0 first quarter lead and never looked back as they defeated the Cougars, 50-20.

Lawrence High senior running back Trey Moore (38) gives Shawnee Mission Northwest defensive back Caleb Johnson (7) a stiff arm as he breaks away to score one of his four touchdowns during their game on Friday night at LHS. The Lions jumped out to a 23-0 first quarter lead and never looked back as they defeated the Cougars, 50-20. by John Young


If you're new to the blog, we're copying one of the popular features of KUsports.com, "Keegan's Ratings," where Sports Editor Tom Keegan ranks KU football and men's basketball players after every game he attends. These individual rankings are just one person's opinion, but it's a good way to look at how each person impacted each game.

Lawrence High football

  1. Trey Moore, sr. RB — Even before his season-ending injury against the Cougars in the 2015 campaign, Moore was still stuck behind JD Woods in a loaded Lions backfield. Moore got his chance to shine Friday night in the season opener with 189 all-purpose yards and four total touchdowns against the Cougars.

  2. Dante' Jackson, jr. QB/CB — Jackson said he was nervous going into his first start as Lawrence's quarterback, but he sure didn't show it. Fifty-six of Jackson's 79 rushing yards came on a touchdown run on the third play of the game. Jackson also threw for one touchdown to Moore after evading pressure from the Cougars' defensive line. The LHS junior's impact wasn't just limited to offense, though. Jackson came up with an interception with less than two minutes left in the first half, and also pinned the Cougars on their own 1-yard line with his best punt of the night.

  3. Erik Shackelford, sr. LB — The Lions linebacker corps didn't miss a beat without 2016 alumnus Price Morgan thanks to the play of Shackelford. Shackelford also returned a punt that was partially blocked for a touchdown, the second straight year he's done that in the season opener.

  4. BJ Murry, sr. DL — The Cougars were pinned deep in their own territory for much of the first half, and Murry eventually made them pay for it by taking down SM Northwest quarterback Spencer Stewart in the end zone for a safety.

  5. Mark Greene, sr. DL — Greene joined Murry in stuffing the middle at defensive tackle. Greene played a big role in shutting down Cougar running back Xavier Perry for much of the first half.

  6. Jesse Tunget, sr. OL — Tunget was responsible for creating some big holes for Moore to run through. The lone returning starter from the Lawrence High offensive line also had a key block on Jackson's 56-yard touchdown run.

  7. Hunter Krom, jr. RB — Krom was a first-down machine after coming in to back up Moore. The junior running back averaged 11 yards per carry after rushing it 11 times for 88 yards.

  8. Ja'relle Dye, jr. CB — Dye played much, much bigger than his 5-foot, 3-inch frame in the Lawrence High secondary, as he broke up a couple of passes.

  9. Cole Brungardt, sr. K — Brungardt was 6-of-6 on his extra points. It capped a strong week for Brungardt after he scored a goal in the soccer team's 2-1 win over Topeka.

  10. Jaxon Malone, soph. CB — Malone stopped what could have been a third straight scoring drive by the Cougars with an interception. Although the game was virtually decided, Perry had just sprung free for a 51-yard run a couple of plays earlier to put the Cougars just outside of the red zone. Malone's interception served as a nice pick-me-up for the Lawrence defense after allowing two quick scoring drives.

    — Rankings from Chris Duderstadt

Free State football

  1. Zack Sanders, sr. WR/CB — One of the best games from a receiver in school history. Sanders was targeted early and often, finishing with a school-record 13 catches for 239 yards and a touchdown. He made one nice diving catch by his team’s sideline, but his most important catch was his TD with 1:39 left, breaking a tackle and sprinting the rest of the way to the end zone.

  2. Zion Bowlin, sr. RB/FS — Backed up against his own goal line in the second quarter, Bowlin took a handoff up the middle and — somehow — fought off enough tacklers and zoomed 97 yards to the end zone. He received a nice block downfield from Daniel Bryant. Otherwise, Bowlin made some nice tackles in the secondary. He finished with 15 carries for 136 yards and two scores.

  3. Nathan Spain, jr. C/DL — Along with some nice blocks on the offensive line, Spain grabbed a fumble (forced by Bowlin or Gage Foster) and ran the ball down his team’s sideline to the 17-yard line. He was helped out by a big block from Vani Martinez, but Spain made the most of the play once he saw the ball hit the turf.

  4. Dallas Crittenden, sr. QB — In his Free State debut, Crittenden showed plenty of poise in the pocket, delivering several big throws. He finished 19 of 29 for a school-record 300 yards and it looked like he was comfortable making zone reads out of the shot gun. His only mistakes were a pair of interceptions, but he proved his agility running around the pocket.

  5. Jax Dineen, so. RB/LB — His first carry of the season was on 4th-and-1 from the 32-yard line. Dineen bounced off of a few tackles at the line of scrimmage and ran the rest of the way for a touchdown — the first person to meet him in the end zone was his older brother. Dineen was tough to stop, ending up with eight carries for 58 yards and two touchdowns.

  6. Jay Dineen, sr. LB/LG — Dineen made some key stops in the backfield, fighting through blocks and making tackles in space. When he wasn’t making tackles, he forced SM West’s quarterback to hurry some throws. But the final drive was most frustrating to him.

    “I take 100 percent responsibility on that play,” Dineen said of the game-winning touchdown. “I need to pick up the back route. I also need to make the tackle on the quarterback out there. I’m a Div. I and that’s a Div. I play that I need to make.”

  7. Gage Foster, jr. LB — Foster showed off his speed, rushing around the edge into the backfield for some key tackles and a sack. His sack on SM West’s final drive put the Firebirds in great position (before a 4th-and-17 conversion). His biggest negative was he had one personal foul penalty called on him.

  8. Noah Kema, sr. DL/TE — Provided a nice boost on the defensive line, making a couple of stops in the backfield and at the line of scrimmage. Not counting SM West QB Zach Witters who ran for 217 yards, Kema and the Firebirds’ defense held SM West running backs to 41 yards on 18 carries.

  9. Spencer Roe, jr. RT — Facing a defense that returned about eight starters from last year, Roe was huge on the offensive line, opening up running lanes and providing strong pass protection. Throwing up 40 points against a strong defense is a good sign for the future.

  10. Jake Rittman, jr. P — He had one punt for 46 yards and some solid kickoffs. But he makes this list for saving a potential touchdown near the end of the first quarter. When SM West kick returner Kyle Harris broke free, Rittman was the last line of defense and made a nice tackle in open field.

    — Rankings from Bobby Nightengale

    Free State senior receiver Zack Sanders reaches out to haul in a fourth down pass in front of Shawnee Mission West defensive back Kirby Grigsby during their game Friday night at FSHS. The two teams went back and forth all night, but the Firebirds came up short, falling 41-40, when the Vikings connected for a 14 yard touchdown pass with 28 seconds remaining in the game.

    Free State senior receiver Zack Sanders reaches out to haul in a fourth down pass in front of Shawnee Mission West defensive back Kirby Grigsby during their game Friday night at FSHS. The two teams went back and forth all night, but the Firebirds came up short, falling 41-40, when the Vikings connected for a 14 yard touchdown pass with 28 seconds remaining in the game. by John Young


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What caught my eye: Summer football practices

In about two weeks, Lawrence High and Free State football teams will open their seasons with their first day of practice. But both schools have competed at team camps, padded camps and scrimmages throughout the summer.

In June, the two schools spent two days at the University of Kansas team camp, along with about 15 other teams around the area. They also participated in Baker University's padded team camp, which they hosted on their own fields. Along with the two city schools, Shawnee Mission East, SM South, St. Thomas Aquinas and Leavenworth were at the Baker camp. Here's some of the things that caught my eye throughout the summer, starting with the Firebirds:

The quarterback competition is becoming more clear with Dallas Crittenden as the frontrunner to start in Week One. On the last day of the Baker team camp, FSHS coach Bob Lisher said the quarterback competition would continue into the fall practices, but the QBs are ranked. As I wrote earlier in the summer, Crittenden, who transferred from Topeka Hayden, took the majority of the snaps with the first-team offense. He has a strong arm and is becoming more comfortable as a dual-threat QB.

Free State junior Gage Foster took reps with the second-team offense and played some running back on the first team, so he will likely find a role on the offense whether it's at quarterback or running back. Sophomore Jordan Preston has worked with the JV offense, giving him regular reps.

The Firebirds should feature a strong defense, anchored by Jay Dineen at middle linebacker. If the end of last season was any indication, once they became more comfortable in their "50" defense, they thrived. Some players are in new roles, but they have plenty of star power returning in Kansas commit Dineen, Zack Sanders, Daniel Bryant, Zion Bowlin and Noah Kema.

In the backfield, Bowlin and Foster appear to be in line for the most carries. Of course, that could always change because both of them have big roles on defense and don't want to exhaust themselves. But they lined up the most with the first team offense. Jax Dineen, Craig Travis and Gabe Del Valle should have the opportunity to work their way into the offense, too.

The Firebirds will have a nice mix of returners on the offensive line. The Firebirds bring back Chase Houk, Sam Hambleton and Jay Dineen. All three of them started for the majority of last season and continuity is a big piece for any offensive line.


Now for thoughts on Lawrence High:

Dante' Jackson is making steady progress at quarterback. The 5-foot-7 junior looked better and better as the summer continued. He showed off his playmaking skills last season as a punt returner and slot receiver, but obviously the biggest adjustment is learning to throw and run an offense. Along with learning the position for the first time, he will be asked to run a no-huddle offense. But if the enthusiasm by his teammates is any clue, he should be more than ready by the first game on Sept. 2.

Speaking of Jackson, he showed a nice connection with his receivers, in particular Ekow Boye-Doe. Obviously summer scrimmages don't exactly translate to games, but Boye-Doe was on fire every time I saw him play. He made some nice catches over the middle and caught some passes through traffic. Harrison King and Jalen Dudley also made some nice plays at receiver.

Opposing coaches were raving about the potential of senior defensive lineman Jacob Unruh. With the Lions moving to platoons for the first time, Unruh can save all of his energy for the defensive side of the ball. He wrecked havoc on the limited contact scrimmages, shedding blockers and finding his way into the backfield. Along with Unruh, senior BJ Murry looked strong on the defensive line.

Watching younger players turn into seniors, it's interesting to see who turns into the vocal leaders of the team. On offense, one of the loudest voices was senior running back Trey Moore, who missed several games at the end of last year because of a fractured scapula in his left shoulder. Moore was a great backup running back for the past two seasons, and should be prime for a big season. On defense, senior Cade Burghart isn't as vocal as some of his teammates, but sets the tone by showing his younger teammates the right way to complete drills and everything else.


As always, feel free to comment, email me, or find me on Twitter @nightengalejr.

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Free State and Lawrence High boys and girls hoops sweep into sub-state finals

For the first time since 2007, Free State and Lawrence High are sending both of its boys and girls basketball teams into the sub-state championship games.

It's a credit to all of the teams for having such strong seasons — all four teams will finish the year with winning records.

Free State's boys basketball team (15-6) had the closest first-round game among city teams, winning 54-52 against Junction City on a putback by senior forward Chrision Wilburn at the buzzer.

For Free State's girls, the Firebirds cruised to a 50-17 victory over Wichita East by holding the Aces to just six points in the first half. Looking for their first trip to state since 2010, it's the seventh straight year the Firebirds (14-7) have advanced to the sub-state finals.

It's hard to tell, but Lawrence High's boys basketball team (19-2) had to fight for its 80-62 rout over KC Wyandotte, finally pulling away in the fourth quarter. Once the Lions were ranked No. 1 team in the state, they've had a target on their back and they know they'll get the best from every opponent they play.

Lawrence's girls basketball team (12-9) earned a 60-48 victory against Shawnee Mission East, using a 12-2 run in the fourth quarter to create some breathing room. Credit the Lions, who are playing without leading scorer E'lease Stafford (12 points per game), for finding a way to win without her.

Now for a look ahead to all of the sub-state championship games:

Free State girls basketball at Washburn Rural (16-5) at 7 p.m. Friday — The Firebirds handed the Junior Blues one of their five losses during the third-place game of the Firebird Winter Classic at the end of January, winning 53-36. The Junior Blues, who won a share of the Centennial League title, are led by Carly Bachelor (14.4 points per game, six vs. Free State in January) and Lauren Biggs (10.0 points per game, 10 vs. Free State). After facing Free State once, Washburn Rural has its eyes set on slowing down FSHS junior Madison Piper, who scored 23 points in the first meeting.

“They’ve got one of the best players around in Madison Piper,” Washburn Rural coach Kevin Bordewick told the Topeka Capital Journal. “She’s a player who can kind of do whatever she wants and score the ball, and she’s also a tough defender. So obviously she’s a big concern. But they’ve also got really nice, fast, good-shooting guards. They’ve got a lot of good role players. They’re just a tough team.”

Shawnee Mission West (11-10) at Lawrence High girls basketball at 7 p.m. Friday — During Sunflower League play, the Vikings won in overtime at LHS, 58-56, on Jan. 12. It was early in the season, and both teams are much improved for the rematch. SM West is led by star center Kenzie Loe, who led the league with 20 points per game and was second in the league with 9.5 rebounds, only trailing LHS freshman Chisom Ajekwu (9.6 rebounds per game). Loe was in foul trouble for the first meeting, but still found a way to score a game-high 27 points.

Free State boys basketball at Wichita Southeast (17-4) at 6 p.m. Saturday — In the final game in Southeast's historic gym (a new one opens next year), the Firebirds will try to slow down one of the best backcourts in the state. Southeast senior guard Jerrick Harding led the City League in scoring for the third straight year (26.5 points) and sophomore Israel Barnes, a transfer from Sunrise Christian prep, averages another 18.5 points. Wichita Heights coach Joe Auer told the Wichita Eagle that Harding “is every bit as terrific of a scorer as Conner Frankamp and Perry Ellis.” The last time the Firebirds traveled to Southeast, they lost by 15 points in the sub-state finals in 2014, though none of the current FSHS players were in that game.

Shawnee Mission Northwest (9-12) at Lawrence High boys basketball at 6 p.m. Saturday — The Cougars are playing some of their best basketball of the season, winning three of their past four games. LHS won the first meeting less than a month ago, 59-54, on Feb. 9. It was LHS senior point guard Justin Roberts' first game back from his shoulder injury. With a strong group of seniors, Dylan Dirks, Ferninand Hardy and Jalen LyDay, the Cougars have confidence they can pull off an upset. "I'm hungry. I want to get them," LyDay told the Shawnee Dispatch of playing Lawrence. "Last game was so close. I feel like if we play the way we did (Thursday), I think we can go get them."


In case you missed it, we're copying one of the popular features of KUsports.com, "Keegan's Ratings," where Sports Editor Tom Keegan ranks KU football and men's basketball players after every game he attends. These individual rankings are just one person's opinion, but it's a good way to look at how each person impacted each game.

Free State girls basketball

  1. Madison Piper, jr. — Piper scored eight of her game-high 17 points in the third quarter, taking advantage of Wichita East’s switch to a man-to-man defense. When she was double-teamed, she made the smart passes, dishing four assists. She also had two steals and two rebounds.

  2. Peyton Brown, sr. — In the first half, the Firebirds looked a little tight on offense — nerves that come from playing in the first playoff game against a team they haven’t played. But Brown just used the opportunity to assert herself on offense. She scored 10 points and added five rebounds, making strong cuts without the ball to the rim.

  3. Caiti Schlesener, sr. — Sometimes a streaky shooter, Schlesener found her rhythm on Wednesday. She shot 3-of-6 from deep and had no problem driving to the rim when Wichita East tried to guard the three-point line on her way to 15 points.

  4. Cameryn Thomas, soph. — Thomas only scored two points but made such a big impact in every other phase of the game. She crashed the glass and frustrated ball handlers with her full-court pressure, ending up with seven rebounds, four steals and a block. As point guard, she had three assists.

  5. Hannah Walter, sr. — When the Firebirds face a zone defense, Walter essentially becomes the team’s point guard. Get the ball to Walter, and let her make the smart play. She had four points, three assists and seven rebounds.

  6. Jaycie Bishop, jr. — Sporting a new hair color, Bishop used her strong defensive instincts to grab two steals. She missed two shots, including a potential buzzer-beater in the first quarter, but she had a nice assist in the second quarter, setting up Brown for a layup.

  7. Erin Cushing, soph. — Always bring a nice boost of energy to the court when she’s on the court. She missed all three of her shot attempts, but had two rebounds and assisted on a three-pointer by Schlesener.

  8. Sophia Jadlow, jr. — Grabbed two tough rebounds in the final minutes and made two free throws.

  9. Calli Bowen, jr. — Made a nice pass to Jadlow in the final minute, earning Jadlow a trip to the free throw line.

  10. Molly Murray, soph. — Murray was called for a foul while playing some tough defense in the post, making the mistake of putting both hands on the ball-handler.

  11. Sara Pavlyak, fr. — She didn’t record any stats with the running clock, but provided some nice stability while dribbling in the back court.

    — Next up: 7 p.m. Friday at Washburn Rural. Record: 14-7.

Lawrence High boys basketball

  1. Price Morgan, sr. — It’s hard to find a player who is on a better run in the past few weeks than Morgan. He’s just playing in a rhythm and so difficult to slow down. He scored 11 points in the first quarter, including seven straight at one point. He finished with 17 points, 10 rebounds, three assists and a steal.

  2. Justin Roberts, sr. — High school basketball’s version of Mariano Rivera, Roberts knows how to close games out for the Lions. He scored 12 of his game-high 25 points in the fourth quarter, drilling shots and making smart passes on drives into the paint. He’s also been strong at the free throw line, shooting 23-of-25 in the past three games.

  3. Jackson Mallory, jr. — The more you watch Mallory, the greater appreciation you have for his skills. He’s one of those players that just does a little of everything to help his team. He finished just shy of a double-double with nine points and nine rebounds, adding five assists.

  4. Fred Brou, sr. — Brou was ready to play in the first quarter and it showed right away. He scored seven of his 12 points in the first eight minutes, converting on two and-ones including a tip-slam while being fouled. He added five rebounds, two assists, two blocks and one more dunk in the fourth quarter.

  5. Anthony Harvey, sr. — Credit to Harvey, when his shot wasn’t dropping, to turn his attention to the defensive end. He played solid defense and grabbed eight rebounds. On offense, Harvey scored a buzzer-beating layup at the end of the first quarter, then opened the second quarter with a no-hesistation three-pointer from the wing.

  6. Kobe Buffalomeat, jr. — Wyandotte essentially played five guards on the court, and Buffalomeat used his size to take full advantage. He scored eight points, waiting for his teammates to deliver him passes in the paint. Buffalomeat added three rebounds and dished a nice assist to Morgan for a layup.

  7. Braden Solko, jr. — Solko provided a huge boost off of the bench, grabbing two rebounds and making two free throws. He showed off some nice handles when dribbling in transition and played his usual hard-nosed defense.

  8. Noah Butler, fr. — In the final minutes, Butler tried to bring the house down by driving baseline and dunking over his defender. Instead, he drew the foul and sunk both free throws. He added a blocked shot and played good defense on the perimeter. His only problem was he played a little sped up on offense when he came off of the bench in the second quarter.

  9. Austin Miller (jr.), Trey Quartlebaum (fr.), Brett Chapple (fr.), Jake Rajewski (soph.) — All of them entered in the final minutes when the Lions pushed their lead to 20 points. Miller deflected a shot on defense, but none of them attempted any shots.

    — Next up: 6 p.m. Saturday vs. SM Northwest. Record: 19-2.

It's always cool to see how Lawrence natives are performing at the collegiate level. I wrote up an alumni watch at the beginning of December, and will have another update in the next few weeks.

But one play from Free State and Bishop Seabury alum Khadre Lane, now a freshman at Campbell University, caught my eye on Twitter and I had to share below. No doubt, it's the same athleticism that made him such a force at the high school level on the basketball court and football field.

None by Campbell Athletics


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