Through the Uprights: Mike Lavieri 9/7

Mike Lavieri

By Mike Lavieri PrepsKC columnist
Posted: September 7, 2017 - 3:04 PM

At one point during Free State’s 56-9 season-opening victory, its opponents – Shawnee Mission West – looked like it didn’t want to be there.

Not because Free State was outscoring them by so many – because the Vikings fought to the end in that regard – but because the Firebirds were laying big hit after big hit on Shawnee Mission West’s playmakers.

By the time the fourth quarter rolled around, the game was in hand for Free State, but the clock played out like it does the rest of the game.

This might be the one flaw of the Sunflower League.

For teams like Free State and Shawnee Mission East, who will most likely have their games wrapped up in the third quarter, they have to be creative with how they utilize the bench.

Free State coach Bob Lisher said the problem with not having a running clock is he has to save third and fourth string players for the sub-varsity games.

“The state says one play constitutes a game,” Lisher said. “If we put them in they couldn’t play (Saturday) and get a lot of reps. That makes it tough on us.”

Sunflower League teams will use the running clock in the playoffs when it’s mandated by KSHSAA, but during the regular season, the teams have to agree upon the running clock in the fourth quarter before the game starts.

This is different to other leagues in the metro – Eastern Kansas League, Kaw Valley League, etc. – that will use the running clock once the spread is 35 points or more.

It’s not like these teams want to run up the score anyway, it does neither team any good, especially since Class 5A and 6A use a 13-point tiebreaker if teams have the same record at the time of the playoffs.

In the KSHSAA Football Manual, Secion 4B(1)D states no team will add or subtract more than 13 points any in game. 

West coach Tim Callaghan likes the status quo because it allowed his young team to earn more reps.

“We needed the work that’s the bottom line,” Callaghan said. “Football builds character in many ways, and you build it when you’re getting your butt kicked, too, sometimes. Our kids don’t like that too much, but that’s the way it is.”