Preps notebook: Senior receivers have been key in 2-0 start by LHS football
Lawrence High senior receiver John Green was initially planning on going out of bounds. His entire team thought he was going out of bounds. Even Washburn Rural probably expected him to get out of play.
Yet, in the final minute of the first half of Lawrence’s convincing 56-7 win last week, Green surprised everyone by turning upfield after catching an out route near the LHS sideline. He was off to the races after that, finishing off a 40-yard touchdown to give the Lions a 35-0 advantage at the intermission.
On a night that was probably the best game of his career, in which Green caught seven passes for 121 yards, that play is now the most memorable snap of his four-year LHS tenure so far.
“Seeing my teammates run up to me and give me big shoulder bumps was really good,” Green said. “All of us are just so supportive of each other.
That support came in a much different form during the team’s film sessions the next day, however. He was teased about his long touchdown on the replay.
“We always make fun of John for being the slow guy,” senior receiver Ben King said. “It was a good laugh in film.”
But that’s what makes the receiver unit for Lawrence High (2-0, No. 1 in Class 6A) so special, particularly the four seniors leading the group. Green and King along with senior Tre’ Jackson and senior tight end Ntense Obono all have a unique bond that helps set the tone for the entire team.
“We are just one big family,” Green said. “We have each other’s backs through up and downs. It’s just one big family, I treat them like my brothers.”
Like most siblings, that bond leads to some teasing even when something good happens like Green’s touchdown at the end of the first half. They hang out with each other both on and off the field. They all like to have their fun, though Obono is considered the goofy one of the bunch, according to his teammates.
That level of bond has really been four years in the making and even goes back to before their time at LHS for some players. Green and King have been receivers since freshman year when Jackson was throwing them the ball as a quarterback.
Once Jackson made the switch to receiver last year that familiarity allowed him to make a seamless transition.
“There is no way we could be any closer,” Jackson said. “As soon as I switched to receiver, it just clicked right away. We all knew what we were doing and knew what we wanted to get done.”
Obono also joined the unit late, electing to pick up football at the start of last year. After initially trying out at linebacker, Obono found a home as a pass catcher. And that’s a credit to his fellow senior receivers.
“They are so welcoming,” said Obono, who was a former soccer player before joining the football team. “They have a lot of chemistry, and I wanted to be a part of their friend group.”
That level of cohesiveness is on display in the game, especially with the contrasting styles.
Green is a consistent weapon on a down-by-down basis and will stay composed in any situation. King can create separation at the line of scrimmage, and runs crisp routes to get open. Jackson’s speed allows him to be used on screens and sweeps, while also getting behind defenses.
“We feed off each other a fair bit,” King said. “When Tre’ gets going, then me and John are (thinking) we are up next.”
It all played a part in senior quarterback Jackson Dooley throwing for 299 yards in the win over Washburn Rural. But don’t be surprised if it is just the start of things to come for an explosive LHS offense.
Lawrence will face Olathe West (1-0) at 7 p.m. Friday at College Boulevard Activity Center.
Firebirds back in action after week off
It was a tough week in the second week of the season for the Free State football program, which is 0-1 entering its home matchup with Olathe North (1-0, No. 4 in Class 6A) at 7 p.m. Friday.
After preparing all week, the Firebirds didn’t find out until Thursday that they wouldn’t be playing in a game last Friday. Lincoln College Prep (Mo.) backed out of the matchup last Wednesday as a precautionary move due to a recent positive test by one Free State player.
Free State had a few options to replace its Week 2 matchup, mostly with some smaller schools, but ultimately was unable to find an opponent that made sense for both teams.
“It was so late that we didn’t have very many options,” FSHS head coach Kevin Stewart said. “I reached out to a couple coaches that I knew had openings, but we were all on the same page.”
Free State still tried to make the most of last week. FSHS had a special teams practice on Thursday, and then had a physical practice last Friday as its best attempt to simulate a game. The Firebirds had a good session in the weight room, as well.
“Realistically, it’s not the same,” Stewart said. “I thought the conditioning was good and they got a good lift in the weight room after.”
On the same day, Olathe North was earning a 41-0 win over Olathe South in its first game back since Olathe school board voted to overturn the district’s decision to postpone the fall sports seasons.
Olathe North finished as the runner-up in Class 6A a season ago but lost a few key players from that squad. Perhaps the most-important departure was Arland Bruce IV, who is a three-star wide receiver recruit committed to Iowa and ended up transferring to a high school in Iowa.
“Losing one guy doesn’t make a whole difference, but they are not what they are with him,” Stewart said. “They are a good football team. It wasn’t just the Arland Bruce show. They have a good coaching staff, good offensive line and a really good defense.”
Free State will still be lacking depth at almost every position for Friday’s game, as one coach and 37 other players finish up their quarantine. But Stewart still expects his team to be more physical in what should be an intriguing Sunflower League battle.
“Olathe North is going to be tough and they are going to come out and block you and tackle you,” Stewart said. “We have to have guys that rise to that challenge.”
Lawrence’s top doubles tandem goes undefeated
The top doubles team for the Lawrence High girls tennis squad came home with all the bragging rights from Wednesday’s quadrangular at College Boulevard Activity Center.
Bella Kirkwood and Ryleigh Leon teamed up to go 3-0 in No. 1 doubles action in a meet that included Olathe West, Shawnee Mission North and Shawnee Mission West. The duo dropped just just two total sets, notching a pair of 8-1 victories and one 8-0 sweep en route to a first-place finish in the event
Lilli Derby, the team’s No. 2 singles player on the day, also won all three of her matches for the Lions.
Wednesday at CBAC
1S: Katie Logan, 1-2
2S: Lilli Derby, 3-0
3S: Audrey Bassham, 1-2
1D: Bella Kirkwood and Ryleigh Leon, 3-0
2D: Abby Marsh and Allison Jakubauskas, 1-2
3D: Paige Unekis and Cordilla Luellen, 1-2