Back to the playoffs!
LHS earns third straight postseason trip with 19-7 victory over Schlagle
Kansas City, Kan. Sure, the Lansing High football team had its doubters this season.
The Lions lost a talented 19-member senior class to graduation in 2005, so it made sense that some people thought the Lions would struggle a bit. But break the program's new tradition of being a regular face in the state playoffs? No way.
Lansing (4-5 overall, 2-1 district) cast aside memories of an 0-3 start to the season, shrugged off the losses and injuries and silenced their critics Friday night by earning a berth in the Class 5A state playoffs with a 19-7 victory over Kansas City-Schlagle at H.D. Neill Stadium. It's Lansing's third straight playoff appearance and first in 5A. LHS finished as the district one runner-up behind Tecumseh-Shawnee Heights.
"I think this is a great finish to a season that didn't start out so great," LHS coach Bill Pekarek said. "All along I felt like they got better every week, just a little bit at a time. This is what we're playing for at the end, to see if you can get in the playoffs. Our guys kept fighting away and they got us into the playoffs.
"My hat's off to the kids. They're fighting hard. I thought the defense played good tonight. Offensively we moved the ball. Sometimes we didn't get it in there, but we moved the ball and came up with the points when we needed it, so I'm proud of them."
The Lions received their typical lock-down effort from the defense, but the key to victory was the offense's ability to move the ball consistently. An injury-depleted backfield moved the ball effectively last week, and junior tailback Chris Hill returned from a sprained ankle Friday and rushed for 121 yards on 22 carries. He picked up a big chunk of those yards - 49 of them - on the first play of the second quarter.
"I knew initially when I got hurt that we had guys that could come in and step in and do a good job, and when they did it that made me feel great," he said, referencing teammates Cameron Schiller, Brenton Smith and David Dickson. "I knew that when I came back I just had to step it up and keep it going."
Hill's long run on a toss play set up an eight-yard touchdown run by quarterback J.T. Collins. Mycol Bowen's extra point made it 7-0 with 9:51 left in the second quarter.
Schlagle used a nine-play, 45-yard drive to tie the game with 2:11 left in the first half. LHS threatened to answer quickly when Collins completed a 42-yard pass to junior wide receiver Stephen Didde in double-coverage. That gave the Lions the ball on the Schlagle 16-yard line, but the drive stalled out quickly. Two plays into Schlagle's ensuing drive, LHS junior Tim Torchio intercepted a pass and gave the Lions the ball back with 1:19 left in the half. Seven plays later Collins scored on a one-yard run. The two-point conversion attempt failed, but the Lions took a 13-7 lead into halftime.
Schlagle (5-4, 0-3) struggled to move the ball in the second half as the Lansing defense picked up its intensity. The speedy Stallions tried to get to the outside, but they did so with little success.
"The past couple weeks the teams we've been playing have been running the same kind of stuff, so it made it a lot easier for us," senior lineman Peter Willcott said. "With the help of the coaching staff we were really prepared."
The defense did its part, and the offense gobbled up the clock with a slew of rushing plays by Hill, Brad Terron and Smith. Terron eventually punched home the final touchdown on a 14-yard draw play up the middle with 7:47 left. The two-point conversion failed, but Lansing's 19-7 lead was safe.
Senior linebacker Joe Kohl praised his teammates for sticking together throughout the season and said he was proud of their effort during district play.
"These last few games we've just come together more as a team," he said. "We just kind of jelled and played so much better. This is fantastic to come out in our first year in 5A and go to the state playoffs."
Lansing is expected to find out Saturday who it officially will play Friday, Nov. 3, in the regional playoffs. Updates will be posted at lansingcurrent.com as information becomes available.
- Tyler Strouhal led the Lansing defense with a team-high 10 tackles. Joe Kohl added eight. Justin Smith, Mycol Bowen and Billy Bayles had six stops apiece.
- Tim Torchio's interception was his team-leading fifth of the season.
- Lansing rushed 43 times for 217 yards. Schlagle had 82 yards on 36 carries.
- LHS piled up 293 yards of total offense to 158 for Schlagle.
- Penalties were at a minimum Friday night. Lansing was penalitzed five times for 44 yards. Schlagle was flagged four times for 15 yards.
- Chris Hill's 121-yard performance ups his season totals to 354 yards on 66 carries.
- Brad Terron rushed nine times for 66 yards and a touchdown. He averaged 7.3 yards per carry. Terron has rushed for 167 yards on 24 carries this season. That's an average of 7.0 yards per carry.