Through the Uprights: Mike Lavieri 11/30

Mike Lavieri

By Mike Lavieri PrepsKC columnist
Posted: December 5, 2018 - 4:38 PM

What a year 2018 was. We were introduced to the Tank Young Show as St. Thomas Aquinas capped off its perfect season with the program’s first state title in program history.

Young will be a force to deal with in the Eastern Kansas League for the next two years. I’m eager to see how his recruitment shakes out.

Recruiting in Kansas will be interesting to see in the coming years as Les Miles takes over at Kansas while questions remain at Kansas State about Bill Snyder despite him signing an extension until 2022.

Kansas City is rich with talent and I fully expect Miles to tap into the keg that is the EKL and the Sunflower League.

We saw Bishop Miege win its fifth straight title in impressive fashion while Graham Mertz quietly put up better numbers for Blue Valley North than last year’s state title winning season.

Mertz wasn’t able to complete the back-to-back titles as Derby reclaimed the crown of king of Class 6A. Derby is a team that has given lots of teams fits over the years and no coach wanted to beat them more – Free State’s Bob Lisher.

However, Lisher won’t have another crack at the Panthers as he walks into retirement as the only coach Free State has ever had since opening its doors in 1997.

I don’t know Lisher that well – only our brief interactions after games, however, you can see how much he cares for his players, his coaches and the game of football.

There are a handful of great coaches in the area that I would love to see win a state title – Rod Stallbaumer at Basehor-Linwood, Tom Radke at St. James – but there is nobody that I would wanted to see more than Lisher.

In his 20-plus years at the helm of Free State, he got close a number of times, but never won the big one.

I hope he doesn’t dwell on not getting the ring but celebrates the good times. I hope he celebrates the relationships formed, the players he helped earn college scholarships and the men, sons, brothers and husbands he molded.

The next coach of Free State will have awfully big shoes to fill, but they’ll get a program in great standing with terrific assistants and tremendous facilities.

I hope he enjoys retirement where he can spend more time with his family and grandchildren.

Kansas high school football is better for having Lisher on the sidelines every Friday night. While he might not be the Firebirds coach anymore, he’ll always be Free State’s admiral.