Free State and Shawnee Mission West showed early signs of rust, yet Free State was able to shed its immediately.
After a block in the back on the first play of scrimmage and a snap that went over quarterback Gage Foster’s head into the end zone for a safety, the Firebirds rattled off 56 straight points to defeat SM West 56-9.
“It’s always good to start off with a win because we haven’t the last two years,” Free State coach Bob Lisher said. “To come out and play the way we did early. We had a great start offensively – we went the wrong way on a boot pass and then we snapped the ball over the head for the safety, so we had a great start. I thought, ‘Oh, here we go,’ but the kids straightened it out and scored a few points and got it taken care of.”
The Firebirds scored on four straight drives – three of which lasted two plays or less thanks to generous field position – in the first quarter to stretch the lead to 28-2. Jax Dineen opened the scoring for Free State with touchdown runs of 27 yards and five yards.
The Vikings held Free State scoreless in the second quarter after Foster threw touchdown passes of 37 and 43 yards, but Free State didn’t slow down in the second half as Jordan Preston threw for two scores and ran for one.
“It’s the way we’ve been practicing the last three weeks – one minute we look like we know what we’re doing, the next minute we look like we don’t know what we’re doing,” Lisher said of his offense. “We just need to get more consistent and as the game progresses I think we will.”
Vani Martinez-Vasquez and Jabrandion Douglas capped off the Free State scoring on a 60-yard fumble return and 46-yard scamper, respectively.
“I thought, defensively, we were a pretty physical football team tonight,” Lisher said. “We’ve got some speed on defense and we can corral people up a bit and get to the ball kind of quick.”
Shawnee Mission West didn't go down without a fight as Wesley Clark hit Christian Wyatt with 42 seconds left for the Vikings’ only touchdown of the night.
“We have a lot of young kids playing and a lot of inexperience, but I was happy with how they played,” SM West coach Tim Callaghan said. “That’s a good team and we knew that. We really just needed a first game I think we’ll see improvement the next few weeks.”