Playing with Fire

By Sean Kosednar PrepsKC Staff Writer
Posted: September 15, 2017 - 10:41 PM

It was too little too late for Park Hill Trojans as they traveled to Lawrence Free State on Friday, September 15. Free State held the number one team in the metro without a touchdown until the fourth quarter. The Firebirds’ 21 first half points would prove to be enough as they hung on for a 21-16 win.

Things could not have started better for Free State. They marched down the field for touchdowns on their first two drives. Each of which were led by junior quarterback Jaxon Webb.

“Those two quick touchdowns were almost too real,” Webb said. “It was unbelievable. No one has been able to do that to [Park Hill] all year. Missouri is really good, so props to them.”

The Firebirds came out firing on all cylinders. They were ready for whatever the Trojans threw at them.

“We game planned out what they were going to be doing defensively,” Free State head coach Bob Lisher said “The guys came out and they executed. The first two drives were pretty special.”

Things slowed down after that with both teams exchanging punts.

Early in the second quarter with the home team backed up in their end things looked to turn around for Park Hill. Back to back false starts put Free State inside their 10. On the next play Webb dropped back into his end zone and was immediately sacked for a safety. This would be the lone bright spot in the first half for the Trojans.

After stopping Park Hill on fourth down with just under two minutes left in the half, Free State started a drive from their own 17. It looked like they might play it safe and go into the half up 14-2. However, they started racking up yards and were quickly to midfield. Jax Dineen broke a run down the left sideline and was into Trojan territory. A face mask penalty added 15 yards and the Firebirds were easily in scoring range. With the seconds ticking down Webb found Jack Theisen on an inside route. The senior caught the ball in traffic and fought through two tackles before reaching the ball across the goal line with nine seconds left. That would be Free State’s final score of the game.

“This is by far the best win I have had in my career,” Dineen said. “To beat the number one team from Missouri is by far the best feeling ever.”

It looked like the game was over.

No one told the Trojans.

As fourth quarter started, quarterback Billy Maples lead is team from the shadow of their own goal line. The drive was topped off with a perfect 30-yard pass to senior wideout Ronnie Bell. Bell ran straight pass his defender and Maples dropped it right over the top.

Two and half minutes later Maples connected with Bell again. This time it was for 8 yards. It cut the lead to 21-16.

“We stumbled a bit in the first half,” Park Hill head coach Josh Hood said. “We felt we beat them in the second half. We just didn't have enough time there left at the end.”

As students rushed the field after the final horn it was clear this was a big win.

“Our guys realize what kind of football team they can be,” Lisher said. “We told them if we execute on offense and match intensity on defense we can be a good football team. I think for the most part we were tonight.”

Free State welcomes Shawnee Mission Northwest next Friday, September 22, and Park Hill face off with Lee’s Summit West.