Edison guides Free State to 47-29 victory at Olathe West

photo by: Mike Gunnoe/Journal-World Photo

Lawrence Free State quarterback Wesley Edison, throws a pass in the first quarter Thursday, Aug. 31, 2023, against Olathe West.

Olathe — The Free State football team started its season off on a high note with a crucial 47-29 road victory over Olathe West Thursday night at the College Boulevard Activity Center.

Led by senior quarterback Wesley Edison, who finished with over 500 combined yards of offense, the Firebirds (1-0) pushed past the Owls (0-1), who managed to score just nine points in the second half compared to Free State’s 19.

“We talked before the game and we said we wanted to go 1-0,” coach Kevin Stewart said. “It was a tough game but we made some mistakes that we have to fix. Our offense though just rolled tonight.”

At the start of the game, Olathe West struck quickly. Over four and a half minutes, the Owls marched down the field and scored on their opening drive, which was capped off by an 11-yard pass from Cameron Kruse to Elijah Hakim.

After that touchdown put the home team up 7-0, the Firebirds came back six minutes later and recorded their first touchdown of the season on a 21-yard pass from Edison to Landon Leipold. The QB made a great throw on the run, and Leipold caught the ball just outside the end zone and broke several tackles to give his team its first score of the season, evening it up at 7-7 heading towards the end of the first quarter.

The Owls scored almost immediately to begin the second quarter after they recovered a Free State fumble. Hakim caught his second touchdown pass from the freshman quarterback Kruse to give his team a 14-7 lead less than a minute into the quarter.

But Free State marched right down the field on their ensuing drive, and after several rushes from Edison, Devon Hamilton took a 49-yard pass from Edison all the way in for the score, evening it up once again at 14-14 with 9:18 left in the second quarter.

On the next drive, Olathe West executed the double pass to perfection as Mason Barnard took the ball from Kruse and launched it to Hakim for his third score of the first half — a 78-yard touchdown that put the Owls up 20-14.

“Defensively, we’ll have to look at the coverage,” Stewart said. “The coverage we were there we just got to make plays on the ball and we had to put more pressure on their quarterback. We needed this win to stick together as a team.”

The Firebirds responded with a long drive of their own and capped it off with a 5-yard rushing touchdown from Edison.

With that drive, the Firebirds earned their first lead of the night, 21-20, and they soon added to their lead with another receiving touchdown from Hamilton. Their final scoring drive of the first half finished with the 19-yard strike to Hamilton, who found a hole in the middle of the field and stretched across the pylon to put his team up by eight.

“To see some of the passes he threw (Edison) and the timing of those passes, he just looked like a real legitimate quarterback,” Stewart said. “His improvement is all about the work ethic that he put in. He was just killing it.”

Free State headed to the locker room at halftime in a controlling position after the defense held the Owls to no points on their final drive of the first half.

On the first drive of the second half, Free State picked up right where it left off, scoring just 90 seconds into the third quarter with another passing touchdown from Edison — his fourth of the game. Bralin Preston was on the receiving end, and the visitors had their largest lead of the night, 35-20, with 10:33 left in the third quarter.

Olathe West came back with a huge drive of its own and punched it in from 1 yard out with a run from Kruse. The Owls missed the two-point conversion, so they only were able to cut the Firebirds lead to 35-26. But then the Owls recovered a successful surprise onside kick to put themselves right back in the game, and they converted with a 35-yard field goal off the foot of Barnard. Suddenly, the deficit was just six points — 35-29 — at the end of the third quarter.

The Firebirds earned some much-needed points to begin the fourth quarter with a field goal of their own. Yusef Iskandrani converted from 31 yards to push their lead back to nine at the 10-minute mark of the final quarter.

Then, on the next Olathe West drive, Free State’s defense made one of their bigger stops of the night. On a fourth-and-10, the Firebirds’ secondary forced an incomplete pass to put FSHS’ offense back on the field, with the contest approaching the nine-minute mark and Free State still leading by nine.

Edison converted on the next drive with a 20-yard touchdown run, pushing FSHS’ lead to 15 — 44-29 — midway through the final quarter.

After Crow Bengoa recovered an Olathe West fumble, a 21-yard reception for Leipold and another field goal by Iskandrani sealed the deal, giving the Firebirds a 1-0 record to start the season.

The Firebirds will travel to Olathe once again next week to take on Olathe Northwest. Kickoff is set for 7 p.m. Friday, Sept. 8, at the College Boulevard Activity Center.

“We have to just get better each week,” Stewart said. “All we can do is go 1-0 every week.”


Free State 47, Olathe West 29


First downs 17 | 12

Rushes-yards 33-202 | 22-52

Passing yards 347 | 273

Total offense 549 | 322

Fumbles-lost 1-1 | 1-1

Interceptions 0 | 0

Penalties-yards 10-89 | 2-10

Score by quarters

Free State 7 21 7 12 – 47

Olathe West 7 13 9 0 – 29


1st Quarter:

07:34 – Elijah Hakim 11 yard pass from Cameron Kruse. Mason Barnard kick good. (OW 7 FS 0)

01:39 – Landon Leipold 21 yard pass from Wesley Edison. Yusef Iskandrani kick good. (OW 7 FS 7)

2nd Quarter:

11:12 – Hakim 11 yard pass from Kruse. Mason Barnard kick good. (OW 14 FS 7)

09:18 – Devon Hamilton 49-yard pass from Edison. Iskandrani kick good. (OW 14 FS 14)

08:20 – Hakim 78 yard pass from Mason Barnard. Two-point conversion no good. (OW 20 14)

05:10 – Edison 5 yard run. Iskandrani kick good. (FS 21 OW 20)

01:55 – Hamilton 19 yard pass from Edison. Iskandrani kick good. (FS 28 OW 20)

3rd Quarter:

10:33 – Bralin Preston 25-yard pass from Edison. Iskandrani kick good. (FS 35 OW 20)

00:57 – Kruse 1 yard run. Two-point conversion no good. (FS 35 OW 26)

00:06 – Barnard 35-yard field goal good. (FS 35 OW 29)

4th Quarter:

10:21 – Iskandrani 31 yard field goal good. (FS 38 OW 29)

07:55 – Edison 20 yard run. Two-point conversion no good. (FS 44 OW 29)

00:15 – Iskandrani 27 yard field goal good. (FS 47 OW 29)

Individual statistics

Rushing: Ricardo Galvan-Funk 11-25; Elijah Hakim 1-(-1); Cameron Kruse 7-12; Mason Barnard 2-14

FS: Wesley Edison 27-186; Ryan Weishaar 4-13; Bralin Preston 1-1; Josiah Moss 1-2



FS: Wesley Edison 19-27-352

OW: Cameron Kruse 18-38-212; Mason Barnard 1-1-78


FS: Bralin Preston 6-103; Devon Hamilton 4-94, Liam Stramberg 2-49, Braycen Johnston 1-7, Landon Leipold 6-99

OW: Ricardo Galvan-Funk 2-0; Tevyn Gasaway 4-54, Elijah Hakim 5-120, Mason Barnard 3-32, Braeden Gillam 2-46, Cade Zimmermann 3-38

photo by: Mike Gunnoe/Journal-World Photo

Lawrence Free State wide receiver Devon Hamilton, fights off a tackle from Olathe West’s Rome Newson, for a touchdown Thursday, Aug. 31, 2023.

photo by: Mike Gunnoe/Journal-World Photo

Lawrence Free State wide receiver, Bralin Preston, holds on to a long pass against Olathe West Thursday, Aug. 31, 2023.

photo by: Mike Gunnoe/Journal-World Photo

Lawrence Free State wide receiver Devon Hamilton is taken down at the 1-yard line by Olathe West’s Josh Foland, on a kickoff, during the game on Thursday, Aug. 31, 2023.

photo by: Mike Gunnoe/Journal-World Photo

Lawrence Free State linebacker Tyler Jeffries, tackles Olathe West’s Elijah Hakim, Thursday, Aug. 31, 2023.

photo by: Mike Gunnoe/Journal-World Photo

Lawrence Free State head coach, Kevin Stewart, speaks to his team during a timeout Thursday, Aug. 31, 2023 against Olathe West.

photo by: Mike Gunnoe/Journal-World Photo

Lawrence Free State wide receiver, Landon Leipold, celebrates after scoring a touchdown against Olathe West Thursday, Aug. 31, 2023.

photo by: Mike Gunnoe/Journal-World Photo

Lawrence Free State wide receiver, Landon Leipold, pulls in a pass for a touchdown Thursday against Olathe West, Aug. 31, 2023.

photo by: Mike Gunnoe/Journal-World Photo

Lawrence Free State quarterback, Wesley Edison, runs for a touchdown that was later called back for a penalty Thursday, Aug. 31, 2023.


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