By John Baetz, for Kansas Pregame
Posted: December 1, 2011 - 11:55 PM
In this weekly column Kansas Pregame publisher John Baetz will take us on a journey across the state as he explores a wide variety of topics focused on Kansas high school football.
I'm more than just a member of the "media" covering high school football in the state of Kansas. I'm a football fanatic that loves watching Kansas high school football and dissecting the game. While it's important for me to remain objective, I'm an advocate for the sport and think it's an important component of one of the finest education systems in this country.
Each fall my photographer Marion McReynolds and I make the trek across Kansas to see as many high school football games as possible. Most night's we make it to at least two games (the first half of one, second half of another) and sometimes three.
Weekly I reflect on the quality of players and teams I see while providing my input for Kpreps.com team rankings, planning for features for the next issue of Kansas Pregame or looking for the next big name in Kansas prep football.
Sometimes I'm immediately struck by the play of a specific athlete while other times I'm fascinated by the cohesiveness of an entire unit such as the Otis-Bison defense or the Plainville offensive line.
In this column I look back at the week one contest featuring Osborne at Lakeside. The game highlighted two of the state's best players in Osborne's Damon Schurr and Lakeside's Miles Thomas.
Schurr would go on to rush for over 2,200 yards, score 42 rushing touchdowns, and tally 98 tackles in 2011 while Thomas would counter with 1,700 yards rushing, 30 rushing touchdowns, and 96 tackles.
Lakeside 32 vs. Osborne 26
In week one we traveled to Lakeside to watch the Knights take on rival Osborne in what would turn out to be one of the most exciting games of the year. Lakeside won a physical battle 32-26 and scored with less than a minute left to get the win and avenge a last second loss to Osborne from 2010. In an unusual twist of fate a strong wind actually changed direction to the back of the Lakeside offense and was a factor in two late Alex Renken completions to Brandon Smith and Jakob Brush that helped Knights running back Miles Thomas get in position to score from two yards out for the win.
In the early going the game was all Osborne thanks in large part to senior running back Damon Schurr. On two breakaway touchdown runs early in the game Schurr was untouched and Usain Bolt would've been hard pressed to catch him in pads. Schurr is one of the fastest players I've ever seen tote the pigskin. While his lateral quickness is not on par with some of the other top running backs I've seen in Kansas I would take his straight away speed with any back in Kansas - any classification. He's no slouch inside the tackles either taking on tacklers and often gaining yards after contact. He also provided solid play on the defensive side of the ball.
Lakeside staggered after the early scores, but then shot from the corner and counter punched using bruising senior fullback Miles Thomas. I saw Thomas play last year and the young man no doubt put in some work in the weight room this summer listed at 6 foot, 220 pounds on the program and looking every bit of it. Surrounded by a number of other talented seniors including Alex Renken, Beau Domoney, Jakob Brush and a host of linemen Thomas ran over and around the Osborne defense but also displayed soft hands catching the ball out of the backfield. Thomas also served as a playmaker on defense.
This was the culmination of two major rebuilding projects as the Curt Christians led Knights improved to 1-0 in a season they would go on to win 11 games and new head coach Steve Tiernan would lose the first of only two games on a season that saw the Bulldogs also make it to the semi-finals.
Only three years ago neither team could imagine such a fate as Lakeside finished 4-5 in Christian's first season following a winless 2008. Osborne mustered only three wins in 2009, their last year in 11-man.
What does the future hold for these two teams? Well, I think they would be hard pressed to match the 2011 seasons, but, with coach Christians and Tiernan in place and a handful of good players back - including Maverick LeRock for Osborne and Trevor Winkel for Lakeside - winning will be the expectation.