LHS expecting another stiff challenge from Derby in state playoffs
photo by: Chance Parker/Journal-World photo
Lawrence High football has been bounced from the playoffs by Derby two years in a row. On Friday, the Lions want to ensure it doesn’t happen a third time.
In the first round of the Class 6A state playoffs last week, Derby (7-2) torched Topeka High 69-12, and the Lions (6-3) know that when they visit the Panthers this week, they’ll have their work cut out for them.
“It means a lot,” LHS coach Clint Bowen said. “Derby is the team in Class 6A football that’s sitting at the top right now. Those guys have gotten the best of us two years in a row and ended our season.
“We tell our kids, ‘At some point in time, a certain group has to step up and be the difference,'” he said. “It’s not going to be easy.'”
Derby’s option-heavy offense has been giving opponents trouble all season, and it’s led by senior running back Dylan Edwards, who’s rated as a four-star prospect by 247Sports and has committed to play at Notre Dame.
“(Edwards) is extremely dangerous,” Bowen said. “You have to keep gaps small, you have to gang-tackle and you have to get a lot of guys to the ball. It’s not a matter of if some guys are going to miss a tackle; we’re going to miss tackles against Dylan Edwards. He’s that good.
“So, your buddies have to be there. It’s a total team effort to stop these guys.”
As for the Lions’ offense, Bowen wants to continue rotating several players across the offense to throw off the opponent’s scouting report. The Lions produced 390 total yards with that approach in last week’s victory against Wichita Heights.
“We’ve worked all season to try and develop our offensive system that takes advantage of the players that we have in a lot of spots,” Bowen said. “We have some kids that can catch the ball, and we have packages that allow us to throw it. We have Jaydon Brittingham, Lance Bassett, Kenton Simmons, and Cole Watson — four big-body tight ends that we can put on the field.”
Given the way it has worked in recent weeks, Bowen said he plans to split the quarterback duties between junior Tyson Grammer and sophomore Banks Bowen.
“The goal is for us to have the most options to keep throwing on the field and try to find answers on game day that will allow us to move the ball and make it as difficult as possible for our opponents to defend us,” he said. To get ready for us, you’ve got to get ready for a lot of things.”
Friday’s kickoff will be at 7 p.m. at Derby High.