Free State football enters Week 5 looking for first home win, strong start to second half of the season

photo by: Mike Shaw/Special to the Journal-World

Free State QB Wesley Edison waits for the snap during the Firebirds' road game against Shawnee Mission Northwest on Thursday, Sept. 22, 2022.

The Free State football team returns to Firebird Stadium for the first time since Sept. 9 this week, when FSHS will take on Shawnee Mission South at 7 p.m. Friday night.

Following last week’s hard-fought, 31-28 loss to Shawnee Mission Northwest, the Firebirds (1-3) are looking to grab their first home win of the season and to finish off September on a high note.

“The number one thing I told him is just we’ve got to practice and prepare like winners in order to win the game,” FSHS head coach Kevin Stewart said. “If we don’t have a good week of practice, it’s gonna be hard to win the games on Friday nights. We need guys to step up and take on a leadership role and point out things that they’re seeing.”

Throughout the first half of the season, the Firebirds showed improvement in each game, with their last two games both being decided by one score each.

Leading the way for the Firebirds last Thursday was quarterback Wesley Edison, racking up nearly 300 yards of total offense and keeping FSHS in the game against a high-powered Cougars offense.

“I think he’s really improving in his passing and football awareness,” Stewart said of Edison. “I think he’s getting more comfortable being out there and being able to make plays and analyze the game. That’s just coming with experience and he did a nice job last week.”

Free State’s defense also is aiming to turn up the intensity level even more heading into this week and beyond.

“We’ve been working in practice on trying to get turnovers and working on some ball skills,” Stewart said. “We’re not creating turnovers and we’re giving up some big plays here and there.”

SM South (1-3) is also aiming for a better second half of the season and enters Friday on the heels of a 63-7 loss to Olathe North in Week 4.

“They’re like a lot of these teams,” Stewart said, comparing the Raiders to the rest of the Sunflower League. “They’ve got a couple good players, but it’s really, at this point, more about what we are doing to improve. We just need to do a better job of executing and taking care of the football.”


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