Four Lions earn football All-State honors
If not for a Gardner-Edgerton touchdown in the closing seconds of a Class 5A playoff game, the Lansing High football team would have made its first appearance in the state quarterfinals.
Even though that didn't happen, the Lions still had an 8-2 record, a Kaw Valley League championship and a school-record fourth straight playoff appearance to their credit.
"We've been on the rise for the last three or four years, and a lot of times it's the players and the people within the organization that make you competitive," LHS coach Bill Pekarek said. "That's certainly been the deal as far as our players are concerned. We feel like we've had some good ones."
Four of Lansing's best football players were identified last week by being named to The Topeka Capital-Journal's All-State team.
Seniors Justin Smith, Brendan Becker, Bobby Hauver and Brad Terron all earned that recognition. Smith was a first-team selection at strong safety. Honorable mention status went to Becker for his play on the offensive and defensive line, Hauver for his performance at quarterback and Terron for his hard-hitting ways at linebacker.
Smith was one of Lansing's top all-around performers, but his greatest moments came on the defensive side of the ball. He was third on the team with 85 total tackles, first with 33 unassisted tackles, first in fumble recoveries with two - both which he returned for touchdowns, and first in interceptions with two - one of which he returned for a touchdown.
His best performance came on homecoming, however, when he recorded a safety and scored touchdowns on a blocked punt, a fumble recovery and a reception. In all, he accounted for 20 of Lansing's 22 points in its 22-15 victory over Basehor-Linwood.
"That homecoming game was just unbelievable," Pekarek reminisced. "That was incredible, and yet there were other games where as far as defense is concerned, he was all over the field.
"One thing is he's a hustler on defense and kind of likes to hit people, and he was hustling himself into some plays. I think he matured this year, and his consistency of play went up with that maturity."
Terron was another defensive dominator. He led the Lions with 98 tackles, 31 of them unassisted. He also recovered a fumble. That was in addition to his duties at fullback, where he rushed for 622 yards and five touchdowns on 81 carries.
"Every (college) coach that comes into our building has heard about him from other people," Pekarek said of Terron. "They're hearing from other coaches around, 'This kid's a player,' so that's good. He's a guy that likes contact and likes to hit, and that could take him a long way.
"We've played him in three different positions on defense in three years and he's played them all well, so he's very versatile."
Hauver may have been the Lions' most pleasant surprise this season. In just his first season as a varsity quarterback, he learned quickly and played with confidence. He was primarily a drop-back passer early in the season, but he blossomed mid-season once LHS incorporated the option into its offense. He finished the season with 1,164 yards passing and 13 touchdowns and completed 66 of 135 passes. In addition, he carried the ball 88 times for 470 yards and nine touchdowns.
"Each week he just got better," Pekarek said. "Really, for our quarterbacks, he's maybe played that spot better than anybody we've had for a while because he could run the option and he could throw the ball. Most of the time if it was incomplete it was dropped, because (his throws) were on the money.
"He did a lot of good things for us. He did a lot of things right, and he played like he'd been playing there a number of years."
Becker is a guy who has played on the varsity for a number of years. He was a two-year starter at offensive guard, and this year he anchored a line that blocked for one of the most high-powered offenses in the Kaw Valley League. In addition, he switched from defensive tackle to defensive end this season, and he finished second in the KVL with seven sacks. He also was fourth on the team with 56 tackles.
"He rarely came off the field," Pekarek said. "In fact, I don't know if he ever actually did. I tried to ask him that one day, and he laughed. He was even on a lot of our special teams."
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