Upon Further Review: Adam Sullivan 11/15
By Adam Sullivan PrepsKC staff writer
Six years ago Free State seniors Keith Loneker and Stan Skwarlo were just 11-years old. Loneker and Skwarlo joined the 2006 Free State football team as youth ball boys, and witnessed arguably the schools best run at a State championship. That 2006 team was loaded as Loneker remembers.
“We had players like Christian Ballard, Brian Murphy and Ryan Murphy so I knew had a chance”.
Another great team in 2006 was Shawnee Mission West. The Vikings and Firebirds were on a crash coarse to meet in the Sub-State game that season, and both entered the game with an 11-0 record. West was led by guys like Blake Lawrence, David Leonard, Andrew Kuhn, and JD Steffen. The game would be dubbed “Game of the century” by many Kansas City media outlets. West won the game 31-14 and moved on to the State title game where they fell to Hutchinson. Skwarlo remembers the game vividly.
“I remember it being a very tough and physical game”.
Fast forward six years and Free State is getting ready to meet SM West yet again in Sub-State. Loneker and Skwarlo now play a big role in Free State’s defense as Keith has 87 tackles while Stan’s racked up 50. Both guys look back to that 2006 game for some motivation for this years game.
“After seeing those seniors lose it was pretty depressing. It sparked a rivalry and I remember starting to not like SM West at all.” Skwarlo said.
“I don’t want to taste the bitterness those guys had to taste. I can’t take another remake of that game, it was awful to see those seniors fall short of state.”
Free State (10-1) and SM West (10-1) will likely play another tough, physical game this Friday night. The two teams met earlier in the year as Free State came away with the win 28-14, but as Loneker told me West is a better team. West is led by star running back Brett Sterbach whose rushed for 1,862 yards on the season while tacking up 20 touchdowns. The Vikings have recently implemented a wildcat formation into their system with Sterbach and Andre Maloney, something Free State didn’t see the first time around.
”We have to shut down the run inside from Maloney and Sterbach because they are definitely play makers,” Loneker said. We also have to make sure we don't give them the ball on offense and keep the momentum on our side.”
Though this year’s game doesn’t have the same hype from 2006, I can promise it’ll be one heck of a battle. I strongly urge any football fans in the metro area to head out to Shawnee Mission South District Stadium Friday night to witness this game, as it could end up being one six years from now your kid remembers.
Loneker and Skwarlo agreed on one thing. Both can’t describe how excited they are for this game, and both shared how happy they are to play another game in their junior campaign.
Regardless of who wins Friday and advances to next weeks State championship game, one thing is certain. This rivalry will stick around along time thanks to the 2006, and 2012 teams.
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