Free State wins Lawrence city championship

Lori Houk/Special to PrepsKC

By Chris Sitek PrepsKC staff writer
Posted: October 22, 2016 - 7:47 AM

On a chilly Friday night, two powerhouse schools collided in one packed stadium and the result was not pretty, Free State smacked Lawrence High, 56-7.

Free State separated themselves from Lawrence High through big plays and Dallas Crittenden was the engineer of them. The senior transfer quarterback was explosive airing out 282 yards, running for 57 more leading Free State amassing 420 yards of total offense. Head coach Bob Lisher noticed: “He did a lot of things good tonight: reading the offense making the correct reads on the run game and finding the right reads in passing game, so he did a lot of good things tonight.”

While Crittenden was good his go-to receiver, Zach Sanders was even better. Sanders burned the entire Lawrence High secondary on his way to another 100-yard, two touchdown receiving night. Zion Bowlin ran tough between the tackles as well rushing for 57 yards off 10 carries and a touchdown. Coach Lisher saw his offensive line as a key in the Firebird cog: “I thought they did a nice job not only in running blocking but pass protecting, Lawrence High packed a few people in the box and we had to throw the ball a little bit and we were able to do that while protecting the quarterback, so for the most part they did a good job.”

Coach Lisher has waited for this kind of win and it couldn’t have come at any bigger time than against their cross town rival, the Lawrence Lions: “This is the type of game we’ve been waiting on where we can come and execute on offense and defense and play a full game and I think we did that tonight.”

For Lawrence High, they can look at the game in two different aspects, a glass half full or half empty if you will: Lawrence gave up only 14 points in the second half against Free State; but they did give up a whooping 42 in the first. The biggest take-a-way was their defensive struggles against the big play: busted coverages, missed tackles and momentum-killing penalties doomed this unit from the first play of the game.

Head coach Dirk Wedd talked about health being a major concern for his team’s struggles: “We’re not even close to being healthy, but that’s not an excuse I mean they were a better football team than we were tonight and we just got to regroup.”

Lawrence’s offense moved the ball with a bruising ground game that rushed for 217 yards, with the likes of seniors Trey Moore (158 yards, touchdown) and James Reeder (64 rush yards) leading the charge but struggled to throw the football. The Lions threw for just 54 yards at two passing yard per clip with zero touchdowns and a pick.

Head coach Dirk Wedd talked about the struggles from the quarterback play: “First off the quarterback (Dante Jackson) is playing at about 60 percent, he’s got a bad ankle and his shoulder got banged up too, so he was playing strictly on guts tonight” said coach Wedd. “When he’s healthy he’s the best I’ve seen, he can throw, run and do everything, we just got to see him healthy.”

The rivalry game was chippy to the say the least: at least a half-dozen un-sportsman like conduct penalties, hard-hits, pushing, shoving and even an ejection throughout the game.

A strange chain of events happened in the first quarter as a Lawrence High assistant coach was ejected for an un-sportsman like conduct penalty. Coaches from both teams chimed in on what they were informed: Lawrence high coach Dirk Wedd: “He was on the field and its un-sportsman like conduct and then I’m not sure what happened after that and got another one and that was the end of that.” Free State coach Bob Lisher: “I think one of the coaches over there ran into an official during the interception or something and that’s all I know.”

Lawrence High will look to rebound heading into the playoffs while Lawrence Free State will play Wichita South.