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The Leavenworth Times - Leavenworth, KS
  • Pioneers start playoffs with rematch

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  • The Pioneers will play a playoff game for the second time in more than three decades, but it’s at the Sunflower League runner-up in Shawnee Mission East. The preparation for the Week 1 rematch began right after the 10-point loss at Wyandotte last week. “We usually break down the game film that we just played, but knowing that we were plying Shawnee Mission East in the first round, the coaches just stayed here until about 1 a.m. breaking down film from Week 1,” said head coach Mark Littrell. The Lancers shut down Leavenworth 34-0 two months ago at Pioneers Stadium. “We’ve just got to be more effective blocking,” Littrell said. “We’ve got to be more physical up front than they are. We weren’t last time.” The Lancers shutout a Leavenworth offense that has the league’s top rusher (Jason Randall), second best receiver (Isaiah Ross) and seventh best quarterback (Landry Hodges). SM East’s defense allows about 13 points per game, but also scores 28.5 points a game. “They are going to do what they do best,” Littrell said. “That’s going to be to run option, midline, veer and run some toss.” The Lancer’s offense is built on running the ball, but it has opened up a passing attack led by Christian Blessen, who is one spot better than Hodges on the league’s passing yards list. “He likes to play-action pass,” Littrell said. “He likes to do some five step and some roll outs.” The Lancers’ running back Luke Taylor is fourth in the league in rushing, with 953 yards and 10 scores, but Blessen and the fullback will run a lot, too. “When you play defense against an option football team, you’ve got to play assignment correct,” Littrell said. “One guy’s got to have the dive back, one guy’s got to have the quarterback and one guy’s got to have the pitch back. They can’t deviate from that.” Littrell said the linemen and linebackers will have to play their assignments, but the safeties will also have to be smart on reading the offense. “Our safeties can’t cheat up and get beat if they do run a play-action pass,” he said. “They’ll still be configured in the run game. They have keys they’ve got to read. There’s a story behind every play. You’ve just got to read it and find it.” The winner of this game will play the winner of the Gardner-Edgerton/Olathe East game next Friday.

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