Free State football rolls, 49-21, to open season

photo by: Chance Parker

Free State senior quarterback Jet Dineen stretches for a touchdown against Shawnee Mission Northwest Thursday, Sept. 2, 2021.

Overland Park — The Free State High football team made the most of its strength and speed Thursday night, opening its season with a 49-21 road victory over Shawnee Mission Northwest.

It was an even game early on at Shawnee Mission District Stadium, with both offenses finding the end zone. But Free State soon got rolling. The Firebirds struck first when senior quarterback Jet Dineen found senior receiver Jordan Brown for a 32-yard touchdown with 5:53 left in the first quarter.

“That was a big play for us for Jordan,” Free State coach Kevin Stewart said after the victory. “I think he’s going to be a guy that will help us in the long run.”

Four minutes after that scoring connection, the Cougars answered. After senior quarterback Blake Reeder threw a 40-yard pass, Reeder ran it in from 6 yards out to make it 7-7 with 1:27 left in the opening quarter.

From that point on, however, the Firebirds dominated the rest of the first half, scoring three times in a span of just six minutes.

Dineen took off for 79 yards down the FSHS sideline for a score that gave the lead back to the Firebirds, 14-7. Soon after, he rushed in for another score, this one from 24 yards out, making it 21-7.

“Jet is a special ball player,” Stewart said. “He’s going to carry us this year.”

photo by: Chance Parker

Free State junior linebacker Colton Berger celebrates a tackle against Shawnee Mission Northwest Thursday, Sept. 2, 2021.

Free State’s quick strike that built a two-score lead came after the Free State defense got crucial stops and the special teams unit came through with a blocked punt.

“The defensive line stepped up,” Stewart said. “I saw some great things from Quez Lee, Grant Gregory and Colton Berger.”

The high-scoring first half for visiting FSHS also included a TD from junior Tay Ware, who made some nice moves to stay alive along the Cougars’ sideline before finishing off a 32-yard run.

Near the end of the first half, an injury stopped the game for about 20 minutes. After trying to make a tackle, a Shawnee Mission Northwest player was caught up in the middle of the play and took a hard fall that sent him out of the game. The player was eventually taken away by an ambulance.

Following the injury, Free State punched it in one more time — Dineen ran in from the 1-yard line to make the Firebirds’ lead 35-7 after two quarters.

photo by: Chance Parker

Free State senior quarterback Jet Dineen breaks loose for a touchdown against Shawnee Mission Northwest Thursday, Sept. 2, 2021.

In the second half, the Cougars’ offense controlled the pace of the third quarter as they drove down the field and took time off the clock. However, a potentially promising drive ended in the Free State defense’s favor with a 90-yard pick-six by senior Cooper Jackson.

​​Shawnee Mission Northwest would get two late scores off a 21-yard pass from Reeder to senior Alex Rogers and a 21-yard run by senior Mikah Scott.

But it would be too little too late, as senior Jerred Willits caught a 33-yard pass from Dineen to cap off the scoring at 49-21.

“The guys got a taste of success,” said Stewart, who watched many of these guys fight hard but finish winless in 2020. “Now we’ve got to push them a little bit harder.”

Free State junior Tay Ware runs it in for a touchdown against Shawnee Mission Northwest Thursday, Sept. 2, 2021.


First downs 10 | 11

Rushes-yards 34-254 | 32-136

Passing yards 138 | 162

Total offense 392 | 297

Fumbles-lost 0 | 0

Interceptions 0 | 2

Penalties-yards 8-65 | 6-45

Score by quarters

Free State 7 28 0 14 — 49

Shawnee Mission North 7 0 0 14 — 21

Individual statistics:


FS: Dash Cleveland 14-72; Jet Dineen 12-152; Dylan Farrel 2- -2, Tay Ware 6-34.

SMNW: Malik O’Atis 19-76; Blake Reeder 10-26; Alex Rogers 1-5; Evan Qualls 1-7; Mikah Scott 1-21.


FS: Jet Dineen 5-11-138

SMNW: Blake Reeder 12-19-145


FS: Jordan Brown 1-32; Jared Willits 2-47; Jake Patchen 2-59

SMNW: O’Atis 3-19; Donovan Ganapini 3-78; Jack Meylan 2-16; Peter Crafton 1-9; Alex Rogers 1-21.


First quarter

FS: 5:53 – Jordan Brown 32 yard pass from Jet Dineen. Adam Coup kick good (FS 7 SMNW 0)

SMNW: 1:27 – Blake Reeder 6 yard run. Sam Vossen kick good. (FS 7 SMNW 7)

Second quarter

FS: 8:48 – Dineen 79 yard run. Coup kick good. (FS 14 SMNW 7)

FS: 7:04 – Dineen 24 yard run. Coup kick good (FS 21 SMNW 7)

FS: 2:38 – Tay Ware 32 yard run. Coup kick good. (FS 28 SMNW 7)

FS: 14.8 – Jet Dineen 1 yard run. Coup kick good. (FS 35 SMNW 7)

Fourth quarter

FS : 11:42 Cooper Jackson 90 yard interception returned. Coup kick good (FS 42 SMNW 7).

SMNW: 8:29 Alex Rogers 21 yard pass from Blake Reeder. Vossen kick good. (FS 42 SMNW 14)

FS: 6:56 Jerred Willits 33 yard pass from Dineen. Coup kick good. (FS 49 SMNW 14)

SMNW: Mikah Scott 21 yard run. Vossen kick good. (FS 49 SMNW 21)


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