What Steve Said: Steve Bubalo 11/19

Steve Bubalo

By Steve Bubalo PrepsKC Senior Writer
Posted: November 19, 2016 - 10:29 AM

The beginning of the football season, or, really, any new sports season for that matter, is all about optimism. Whether it’s from coaches, the players or the fans, there’s always hope that this is the year said team has a chance to go all the way.

With that in mind, I had to ask Lawson head coach Todd Dunn about his preseason expectations for his team. The Cardinals had just defeated Summit Christian Academy 35-19 in the Class 2 quarterfinals, putting them one win away from a spot in the state title game.

Is this where he saw this team at the beginning of the year? His answer didn’t necessarily surprise me, but I appreciated his honesty.

“If you would have asked me at the beginning of the year, no,” Dunn admitted. “But I’m old fashioned. I know not to look that far ahead. I felt if we got better every day we could be a really good team.”

And that is exactly what’s happened. After losing in Week 1 to Maryville, the No. 1 team in Class 3, the Cardinals have reeled off 11 wins in 12 games. They were coming off a 6-4 season in 2015, but Dunn saw signs of what could be a special team.

The senior class was big. The talent was there. Dunn knew it, he just needed the pieces to fit and for a some guys to step up in the right places. Mission accomplished so far.

I’ve been able to witness the last two Lawson victories and what struck me is the way they seem to get better as the goes on. They don’t wear down, they don’t get tired. That’s what they do to their opponent.

Both Lexington and Summit Christian had noticeably smaller rosters than the Cardinals, and Lawson was able to use that to their advantage. They’re able to shuffle guys in and out on both the offensive and defensive lines, while also not having to rely on just one or two playmakers on offense. They were relentless with the running game in the second half of both victories, and neither opponent had an answer.

“That’s grown through the season,” Dunn said of the team’s depth. “We have several guys on both sides of the line that we shuffle in and don’t really lose anything, especially on defense. We want to try and keep the guys fresh.”

As the season rolls on, this advantage might continue to be the biggest key to success. The Cardinals will host 11-0 Trinity Catholic Saturday. The Titans have played one close game all season, and that was two weeks ago against Lutheran North, another team in the Class 2 state rankings, and beat them 31-24. Every other victory has come by at least 34 points.

I have no idea what kind of team Trinity Catholic is or what level of competition they’ve seen, but I think Lawson finds itself in the state championship game after Saturday afternoon’s contest. In Class 2, where so many kids tend to play both ways, I think Lawson’s depth continues to be the key.

I’ve seen first-hand what the Cardinals can do with a lead late in the game. Each of the last two weeks they’ve gotten the edge right out of the gate, put the other team on its heels and went to work. That’s a pretty good recipe for playoff success. Let’s see if it can hold up for two more weeks.