Sideline Pass: Jim Bradford 10/7

Jim Bradford

By Jim Bradford PrepsKC Senior Writer
Posted: October 7, 2015 - 5:59 AM



Every year there seems to be that one team. That one team that just can’t buy a break.

We’ve all seen them. We’ve all probably been a part of those types of teams — as a coach, a player or as a fan. While you’re on board for such a ride, well, it stinks.

There’s no fun in playing your heart out and not catching a break.

For four weeks, Lawrence Free State couldn’t buy a break. Period.

In week one, the Firebirds were driving, down by a point, late in the gamer against Shawnee Mission West when an interception in the end zone ended their chance at a season-opening win.

A week later was downright cruel for the Firebird faithful when a late fumble return for a touchdown against Olathe North ended their hopes of knocking off the Eagles. The Firebirds were up by three with less than two minutes to play, trying to kill the clock when a fumble in Eagles territory ended up in the hands of Isaiah Simmons, who returned it 68 yards for the game-winning score.

The hits just kept on coming for the Firebirds as they lost a nail biter to crosstown rival Lawrence, 14-12 to bottom out. They were 0-3 before they even knew what hit them.

The Firebirds finally got into the win column in week four with an impressive 43-7 win over Leavenworth and were able to take a deep breath.

They were good. Really good, but only had a 1-3 record to show for it.

Their talent was not lost of SM East head coach Dustin Delaney heading into last Friday’s game at SM North. He knew they were talented. He knew they were a powder keg, waiting to explode. He called them one of the best 1-3 teams around, even going as far to say that they might be the best 1-3 team in the country.

Yeah, yeah, yeah. Coach-speak, right?

Well…

After what Free State did to the best team in the state of Kansas, Delaney might have been right. I mean, East was rolling. They had won 17 games in a row. They were the defending Kansas Class 6A state champions. Heck, the last time they lost a regular-season football game was nearly two years ago.

As a Lancer fan, you might try and kid yourself into thinking that the defending state champs were just a couple of mistakes away or a few blown calls away from a win, but Delaney knew the truth after the Firebirds’ 32-20 win over East.

He knew that, well, it might not even have been as close as the score would indicate.

“They outplayed us, they out hustled us, they out-everything’d us,” East head coach Dustin Delaney said. “They ran it down our throats tonight like no one has in the past couple of years. That is a really good team.”

Oh, how quickly things can change. Suddenly, a team that started 0-3 has the inside track at representing the western side of the state in the Class 6A title game.

All because they were finally able to buy a break. And in the process, broke the Sunflower League race wide open.