Sideline Pass: Jim Bradford 9/26
By Jim Bradford PrepsKC Senior Writer
Sometimes it takes a setback to make you realize you’re not invincible. Sometimes when everything goes just right, the biggest problems can be hidden.
A wise old coach once told me that constantly winning can be one of the biggest problems for a team that is still searching for an identity.
Winning sometime hides the problems, and, as much as you hate the experience, sometimes you need a little glass of cold water in the face.
It seems that Lawrence Free State may have been holding that glass late Friday night during week 2. The Firebirds had just humbled Shawnee Mission West 28-14 on their own field.
A team that went into the game thinking it was ready to take its place among the Sunflower League elite was left walking off the home sidelines with heads hung low.
Enter their week 3 beatdown of Olathe North — on North’s home turf.
And they did it by taking a page from the old-school Olathe North playbook: Block up front, run the ball like you’re angry at the ground and play stellar defense.
“That was West football,” Viking senior Brett Sterbach said after hanging 238 yards on 29 carries and two touchdowns .
All of a sudden, the Vikings are back in the mix. They may be sitting in a four-way tie for third place right now, but the way the Vikings bounced back in week 3, they are definitely headed north in the standings. Shawnee Mission West beat Olathe East 18-8 last week and now faces a surprising Shawnee Mission South and Leavenworth before district play begins.
“Some teams will lose and not improve the next week,” Sterbach said. “Not us.”
West ran for 405 against North, and Sterbach now leads the league in rushing with 658 yards on 108 carries through four games.
Not bad for a 5-foot-7, 170-pound back who makes a living between the tackles.
“I love getting the carries. I wish I could get more,” Sterbach said, grinning ear to ear. “Football is second nature to me.”
While Sterbach loves the load, West coach Tim Callaghan is certain that he needs to spread the wealth if the Vikings are going to make a run at the playoffs.
“We need some other guys to carry a bit of the load, too,” he said.
While it is just week 5 on the Kansas side and there’s a lot of football left to be played. One thing is for certain — SM West got the wakeup call it needed and is ready to make a run at this thing.
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