Starting positions up for grabs at football scrimmage today
Say this much for the Lansing High football program: It can't claim a lack of respect this year.
Despite graduating 19 seniors from last year's Kaw Valley League co-championship team that went 9-2, Lansing received a No. 24 ranking in the Metro Sports Super 25 preseason poll. That's up a spot from last year when the Lions garnered a No. 25 preseason ranking.
"That's a nice pat on the back for what we've accomplished in the last two years," LHS sixth-year coach Bill Pekarek said of the ranking. "But every year is a new year. We graduated 19 seniors, and we know we're going to have to have people step into those spots and come out and play some good football."
With five defensive starters and just three offensive starters back, the Lions have spent the first two weeks of practice searching for players to fill holes throughout the starting lineup.
The battle for starting spots has been intense. Evidence of that is the up-tempo pace at practice and the enthusiasm shown by the players. They've spent the last nine months hearing how Lansing football is due for a down year, but they remain adamant that their goals are both lofty and attainable.
"We just want to prove that we're still back, we're still here, and there's still some football to be played," said senior Angelo Barron, a returning starter at defensive end.
Added senior linebacker Joe Kohl: "We want to go deeper in the playoffs. With this being our first year in 5A, we want to win district first. That's the first step, but we've got to get past the first couple of weeks and go from there."
The Lions' first test will take place at 6:30 p.m. today on the lower practice field behind the high school when they have the annual Red-White Scrimmage. For some, a preseason scrimmage might seem like a glorified practice. For the Lions, however, it's a big deal. The starting lineup for the first few weeks likely will be determined largely by who performs well in the scrimmage.
"Everyone wants to get a starting spot on Thursday," Barron said. "All we're doing right now is working hard and beating ourselves up so we can fill those spots."
MORE ON THE POLL
Lansing wasn't the only Kaw Valley League school recognized in the Metro Sports poll. Tonganoxie also was included in the rankings. THS was ranked No. 25.
Interestingly, Lansing and Tonganoxie meet in the season-opener Sept. 1 at THS.
Although Lansing's other sports teams played in Class 5A the past two seasons, football remained in 4A because the Kansas State High School Activities Association sets football districts on a two-year basis.
LHS football moves to 5A this year. It will play in District No. 1 with Kansas City-Schlagle, Kansas City-Washington and Tecumseh-Shawnee Heights. Lansing won its 4A district the past two years before falling in the regional playoffs.