LHS football seeks winning streak
Judging by the broad smiles and hugs seen on the Lansing High football team's sideline during the final minutes of its 27-7 victory over Bonner Springs on Friday, Sept. 22, you might have thought the Lions were putting the finishing touches on a state championship.
Instead, Lansing (1-3 overall, 1-3 Kaw Valley League) was wrapping up its first victory of the season after a disappointing 0-3 start and two close losses.
LHS lost by a point one week earlier against Santa Fe Trail, and the week before that let a close game slip away against Perry-Lecompton. After those shortcomings, the Lions wanted to savor this moment.
"It's a big weight off our shoulders," said senior wide receiver Brad Zink, who made a team-high three catches for 49 yards. "We had high expectations coming into the season, and today we answered them."
The difference for Lansing was that Friday night the offensive line finally jelled. The line's improvements have been evident each week in the rushing totals. LHS had just 62 yards on the ground in its first two games combined. Then it had 225 yards rushing in week three. Against Bonner, linemen Jonathan Biever, Mycol Bowen, Jacob Henderson, Peter Willcott, Billy Bayles, Zach Robinson and Brendan Becker constantly blew holes open for senior running back Kyle Grape as he rushed for a career-high 169 yards on 30 carries. Grape was quick to credit the linemen for his success.
"The line did awesome," Grape said. "It was real nice to see the holes open up like that. We pretty much ran one play at them, and they couldn't stop us."
In addition to the success on offense, the defense continued its steady improvement and turned in a dominating performance. The Lions eliminated mistakes and allowed just two long plays all game.
Bayles said the victory provides the perfect springboard for Lansing as it enters the meat of its schedule. League foes Basehor-Linwood and Mill Valley are next.
"It's going to start everything," Bayles said of the victory. "Our offense started rolling this game. Our defense came together. If we can keep this momentum, I think we're going to be pretty good toward the end."
Lansing's focus now is on turning its win into a winning streak. That will happen if it beats Basehor-Linwood at 7 p.m. Friday at Basehor (1-3, 0-3).
LHS coach Bill Pekarek praised his players for showing resilience during a difficult opening stretch to the season. He credited them for never losing focus and always playing hard. Now he hopes they can build on a much-needed victory.
"With each win I think you gain confidence," Pekarek said. "Right now we just needed to get that taste of it, and I hope that regenerates everybody and charges them up and everybody kind of gets ready to play every time."