Free State football hits the road in Week 3 still searching for first win of 2022 season

photo by: Emma Pravecek

Free State senior linebacker Colton Berger talks to his teammates during the game against Olathe Northwest on Friday, Sept. 9, 2022.

The Free State High football team will head on the road for the first time in 2022, when it faces Olathe East at 7 p.m. Thursday night at the College Boulevard Activity Center.

Following a slow start to the season, the Firebirds enter Week 3 looking for their first win.

“The first message this week was that they’re getting better and we made fewer mistakes,” FSHS coach Kevin Stewart said. “We still made too many turnovers and negative plays, and that’s really why we got beat.”

Despite a tough loss on homecoming to the Ravens, the Firebirds racked up 230 rushing yards with 146 of them coming from emerging running back Tay Ware.

Junior quarterback Wesley Edison also ran for 84 yards on the ground and threw for another 157 in the air in his second career start under center for Free State.

As the Firebirds’ offense has continued to improve, so has Edison’s confidence, and Stewart has seen his young QB start to get more comfortable with his receivers.

“He’s improved a lot over not just this season but from the beginning of the summer,” Stewart said. “So in the last six months he’s really made a lot of improvements.”

Heading into this matchup, Stewart and the Firebirds look for continuous improvement and growth as more players get comfortable with their positions heading into the heart of their Sunflower League schedule.

“We’ve got to compete in practice every day and we’ve got to understand that there’s not going to be any easy games,” Stewart said. “The guys need to understand every week’s going to have teams that are going to have some good players. Olathe East is going to have a good football team.”

Olathe East (1-1) enters this week’s matchup looking for its second win of the season in the first of upcoming back-to-back meetings against Lawrence schools. Olathe East will play at Lawrence High next week.

So far this season, the Hawks have defeated Shawnee Mission and lost to Olathe North and Stewart said this week’s opponent will present a number of matchup challenges for the Firebirds.

“They’ve got a couple of really good athletes,” he said. “They’ve got a kid in the slot who’s really fast and their secondary has some speed at the safety positions. I think it’s going to be a battle, and it’s been like that all year.”

As FSHS heads into its first game away from Firebird Stadium, Stewart said he was excited to see how his team reacts to a tough road environment.

“I think it’s that competitive greatness,” Stewart said. “I want the guys to go out there and compete and when they get challenged, they rise to the occasion and they want to be challenged. That’s what it is all about.”


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