Lincoln Prep bounces back to beat East
By Toriano Porter PrepsKC Staff Writer
Lincoln Prep head coach Henry Newelll gathered his Blue Tigers team on the far side of Interscholastic League Stadium to deliver a message.
It was a forgone conclusion that Newell was proud of the Blue Tigers’ effort in their Class 3 District 8 contest against host East.
The veteran coach wanted to let his charges know first-hand how he felt.
On the other side of the field, nearest the press box, East head coach Greg Smith tried his best to reign in an emotionally-distraught bunch after a 43-14 pasting at the hands of Lincoln.
The IL contemporaries battled last week for league bragging rights and hardware, but on Friday at IL Stadium, their seasons were on the line.
The scene was no different than at any other stadium throughout postseason high school football: win, receive a pep talk and advance; lose, get consolation and start off-season conditioning in a couple of weeks.
The storylines for the game were as thick as fog between the two teams.
One week ago, East knocked Lincoln off the top perch in the IL after the Blue Tigers’ two-year undefeated march through the league.
The championship for East came after the Bears finished a combined 1-19 over the previous two seasons.
Lincoln, on the other hand, played in the district semifinal last year, but came into Friday’s game without its top offensive playmaker and cover corner Duane Clayton.
Clayton, also an accomplished return man for the Blue Tigers, sat out due to injury.
Backstory aside, the night belonged to the Blue Tigers. The win set up a district semifinal matchup next Friday with top-seeded and No. 1 ranked Maryville (10-0), who defeated Northeast (1-9) 49-6.
“The offensive line didn’t play well last week, but this week they had to step up,” Newell said. “They had no choice. We were a lot more physical tonight.”
With Clayton out of action, Blue Tigers running back Kalyn Davis and quarterback/defensive back Harris Frazier took over playmaking detail.
Davis wrecked shop as he powered his way into the end zone six times. He also had at least a half dozen runs of at least 20 yards. By Newell’s estimation, Davis totaled nearly 300 yards on the night.
“I was real mad about last week,” Davis said. “Even though I had 200 yards last week, I don’t feel like I put my all into it. This week, I promised to double my effort and contribution to the team.”
On defense, a swarming unit made up for the loss of Clayton, a ball-hawking defensive back.
Lincoln kept East quarterback Dwayne Charles in check after the senior signal-caller accounted for half of East’s six touchdowns in last week’s 40-34 league-clinching win.
Frazier, who splits double duty as a defensive back, snagged an interception late in the third to thwart an East drive.
“We spied the quarterback the whole game to where he couldn’t run the ball,” Newell said. “We took him out of the game and took our chances downfield--that was an adjustment we made.”
A week after being crowned, the Bears were left to ponder what ifs. A cast of seniors bid farewell to their high school football careers.
“Lincoln came to play and we didn’t,” Smith said. “We were still rolling on that emotion from last week. You can’t come into a game like this like that. This is districts. This is to keep moving on.”
Despite the defeat, Smith praised a group that endured through a stretch of 22 losses in 23 games over the course of three seasons.
“The hardest thing is not letting them get to experience more of this (winning),” he said. “It takes a while to build a program. At least our young people get to see this. We’re not going anywhere. The environment in our building is crazy. Football is back at East.”
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