By Mark Schremmer for Kpreps.com
Posted: October 26, 2012 - 1:06 AM
In the history of the Lawrence and Lawrence Free State rivalry, this may be the biggest one yet.
Consider that both teams are 7-1, and that Friday’s final regular season game at Lawrence High will determine the champion for the Sunflower League and Class 6 District 1.
Lawrence Free State is No. 3 in the state and Lawrence is No. 4, according to Kpreps.com rankings, and the two teams are featured in the Kpreps Statewide Game of the Week.
“One of our secretaries who’s selling tickets told me it’s a sell out,” Lawrence coach Dirk Wedd said. “I told her you can’t sell out a football game. She said they are still selling tickets, but now they’re overflowing on the track and the end zone. This is the biggest game in the 16-year history of the two schools. It’s going to be a big one.”
Both the Lions and Firebirds cruised through their first two district games. Lawrence beat KC Wyandotte and Leavenworth by a combined score of 103-42, while Free State rolled past the two teams by a combined score of 96-20.
Lawrence and Free State have each clinched playoff berths, but Friday’s winner will determine the district champion. The winner will host its first-round game next Friday, and the loser will have to go on the road.
The Sunflower League title also is on the line as Lawrence enters the final week with a 6-0 league record. Shawnee Mission West also is 6-0 in the league. Free State is 5-1 and could forge a tie if it wins and Shawnee Mission West loses.
Lawrence enters on a seven-game winning streak after falling 20-14 in a nonleague game to Shawnee Mission West in Week 1. Free State’s only loss was 38-35 to defending 6A champion Olathe South in Week 3.
“I’m sure it will be a packed stadium,” Free State coach Bob Lisher said. “There’s a lot of excitement. There’s been quite a bit of media with TV and radio. They’re hyping it pretty good.”
Part of the hype surrounds the matchup of two of the best quarterbacks in the state with Lawrence’s Brad Strauss and Free State’s Kyle McFarland.
Strauss is a three-year starter for the Lions, and can hurt teams with his arm and his legs. He has passed for 1,557 yards and 18 touchdowns, while rushing for 636 yards and 13 touchdowns. He also has 45 tackles and two interceptions on defense.
“I’m prejudice, but if he’s not the best football player in the state of Kansas, then I don’t know what anyone else is talking about,” Wedd said. “He’s very special. He’s a winner. He never comes off the field.”
McFarland is a two-year starter and has been integral to the Firebirds offense. He has passed for 1,080 yards and 13 touchdowns and has rushed for 562 yards and five touchdowns.
“He does a great job of keeping his eyes downfield,” Lisher said. “He can stay in the play and keep things going for us. He also can take off and make a play. He’s a very good running quarterback.”