Preps notebook: Top-ranked Lions focused on what they can control during strange season

photo by: Mike Yoder

A group of Lawrence High defenders celebrates a quarterback sack by Malique Morris Ramirez (50) during LHS’s season-opening, 53-0 win over Shawnee Heights on Friday night at LHS.

Lawrence High head coach Steve Rampy has never been one to let his team worry too much about the opponent. He believes that all his players can really do is focus on what they can control on their end.

And that message certainly has even more truth to it during a wild 2020 season that has already featured so many different schedule changes.

“I think that approach helps us through this,” Rampy said. “All you can really do is control how you play, and how you approach practice and games. That’s all a football team can control is themselves. This (season) is going to be a testament to that.”

The Lions are 1-0 after a 53-0 thrashing of Shawnee Heights in the season opener. Lawrence, which was bumped up to No. 1 in Class 6A according to after that performance, will now host Washburn Rural (0-1) at 7 p.m. Friday.

But LHS wasn’t entirely sure that it would be facing Washburn Rural until the middle of the last week, when Rampy posted a tweet from his personal account on Sept. 2 about looking for an opponent for the second week of the season. LHS eventually landed Washburn Rural, though it was just the latest example of what has been a strange start to the season.

Lawrence was one of the many schools left scrambling in August to put together a full schedule after the Olathe and Shawnee Mission school districts elected to postpone the 2020 football season to next spring.

Then about 24 hours before the season opener, the Olathe school board voted to overturn the district’s decision to postpone the fall sports seasons. As a result, LHS has since added a home tilt with Olathe West to its schedule for Week 3.

And that’s not even including the multiple times Lawrence had to halt its summer activities. Through it all, though, a 28-person senior class has shown maturity and allowed the Lions to come prepared to play on a daily basis.

“They have come every day ready to work regardless of what’s in front of them,” Rampy said.

Rampy also made sure to credit first-year Athletic Director Nick Wood, who has been guiding LHS through a year unlike any other.

“He’s really done a fabulous job in a very trying time,” Rampy said. “First-year AD having to deal with all this, I’m really proud of him and what he’s done for us.”

Fortunately for the Lions, they should be familiar with the Junior Blues.

LHS earned a 38-21 win over Washburn Rural in the opening round of the Class 6A playoffs last year. Washburn Rural, which is coming off a 42-8 loss to Topeka Seaman, will be looking for a better outcome in this year’s rematch.

“They will be big and physical,” Rampy said. “They gave us a tough battle last year in the playoff. We are expecting that same kind of effort again. It will be a good challenge for us.”

FSHS football will not play in Week 2

Speaking of schedule changes, Free State’s football team will not be competing this week.

FSHS announced Thursday afternoon via the school’s website that it was unable to find a new opponent after Lincoln College Prep (Mo.) backed out of the matchup on Wednesday as a precautionary move due to a recent positive test for one Free State player.

Free State head coach Kevin Stewart posted a tweet on his personal account Thursday morning in an attempt to locate a team to face on Friday, but was unable to ultimately find an opponent with an opening.

While the student who tested positive did not play in the Firebirds’ opener, the health department recommended earlier this week that one coach and 37 other players quarantine through Sept. 17.

The Firebirds are 0-1 following a 42-34 home loss to De Soto. Free State is slated to host Olathe North on Sept. 18.

Local volleyball teams get in win column

Both Free State and Lawrence High volleyball programs got in the win column following their respective matches on Wednesday.

FSHS earned its first victory of the season with a 3-0 sweep (25-15, 25-12, 25-19) of Olathe North on the road. After dropping the first two sets, Lawrence surged back for a 3-2 road win (25-20, 25-19, 25-19, 25-16, 15-13) against Olathe East.

The Lions (2-3) were led by a 16-kill performance from senior I’yawa Brewer and a 10-kill showing from junior Gianna Cooper. Senior Ozi Ajekwu had five blocks to lead the defensive effort. Senior Hadley Bird recorded 25 digs, while junior Emily Silvers finished with 20 digs.


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