Preview: LHS eager to build on offensive firepower in home opener against Olathe West

photo by: Carter Gaskins/Special to the Journal-World

Lawrence's Banks Bowen (4) hands the ball off to Malcom Paul (5) on Friday, Sept. 1, 2023. CH Reply

Even just one week into football season, Lawrence High has the look of an offensive superpower – that is, when all the dots connect. Opening their home slate with Olathe West on Friday, the Chesty Lions will continue focusing on their high-powered run game.

Last week, LHS racked up 403 yards of total offense in a 41-22 road win at Olathe South and looked good in the process, boasting 197 yards rushing from starting junior quarterback Banks Bowen and plenty of support from supporting senior tailbacks Malcolm Paul (82) and Tony Jacobsen (56).

Those numbers, which relied on a sturdy performance by the offensive line, were strong indicators of what LHS plans to replicate week after week.

“We’re trying to establish that we’re a physical team,” LHS head coach Clint Bowen said. “We need to continue to build on that and be the more physical team and control the game.”

Hammering the hole and limiting air traffic was seemingly the ideal formula last week, but the third-year Lions coach is well aware that won’t always be the case. On the four occasions Banks Bowen did decide to roll out and seek a receiver, each completion netted 10 or more yards resulting in a first down.

“(O-South) gave us the numbers in the box to run it,” Clint Bowen said. “I think we’ll continue our philosophy that we’re going to put ourselves in the best play possible and, based on what the defense shows us, if we gotta pass it, we will.”

Similar to last week’s blueprint will be the Lions’ defensive approach, which will see LHS tasked, again, with limiting a promising passer in Olathe West’s freshman starter Cameron Kruse. Kruse finished last week completing 18 throws for 212 yards in a 47-29 loss to Free State.

And Kruse has a natural pairing in wideout Elijah Hakim to deal some serious damage. Kruse found Hakim five times last week for 120 yards against the Firebirds.

“You’re always trying to find ways to disrupt their progression,” Bowen said. “(We) want him to figure out what we’re doing after the ball’s been snapped. Give pressure, get in his face and he’ll throw the ball a little bit faster than he has to. We definitely want to try and do some things to keep him off balance.”

Kickoff is slated for 7 p.m. at LHS.


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