Rams aim for .500/LVHS, Lansing, Bobcats hit the road

 Let’s not do that again.

That must be what the Pleasant Ridge football team is thinking after one week of the season.

The Rams will aim to even their record when Jackson Heights comes to Easton for a 7 p.m. Friday kickoff in The Leavenworth Times’ Game of the Week.

The Rams will try to move to 1-1 after losing at Horton 18-0 a week ago. They will attempt to keep away from a run that saw them fall to 1-6 in 2016 before finally finding traction.

“Last week we played solid defense but must improve our tackling,” PRHS head coach Patrick McCollim said. “Two of our opponent’s touchdowns were plays that we had the back wrapped up for a loss and they broke tackles. Offensively, we have focused on finishing drives and scoring in the red zone this week. We reached our opponent’s 10 yard line three times last week and came away with nothing each time. We moved the ball well in the middle of the field and threw the ball well when we had time.”   

Jackson Heights rolled to a 68-0 win over Maranatha in week one. Last year, Jackson Heights beat the visiting Rams 36-6.

“Jackson Heights is a very good program and has been for the past several years,” McCollim said. “They have a very powerful running attack on offense and will try to set you up for play action. We must be able to stop the run if we are going to win this game.”

Preparation for the Cobras’ visit has gone well.

“We have had a good week of practice,” McCollim said. “We had a very productive film session on Saturday morning and were able to show the boys what we had to get fixed and they have went to work all week to fix those things. I believe, and the boys believe, that we are a good team with a great deal of potential but we must work hard every day to meet that potential.   

“We are also playing a lot of younger kids and I am confident they will get better and better each week. We will have to be able to stop the very strong running attack of Jackson Heights and score when we get the opportunities in their red zone to win this game.”  

 

Leavenworth (1-0) at Shawnee Mission West (0-1), 7 p.m.

The Pioneers, coming off of a 13-6 win over rival Lansing, hit the road again to play a smarting Vikings team that was floored by a powerful Lawrence Free State team 56-9 in the season opener.

Can the Pioneers make it 2-0 against West, which beat LVHS 40-17 a year ago? The teams have split the two contests played under the current Pioneer coaching staff.

“Shawnee Mission West is always one of the toughest teams in the Sunflower League with a great deal of tradition and a great coaching staff,” LVHS head coach Mark Littrell said. “I expect West to be a better football team than what they showed last week against one of the best teams in the state, Lawrence Free State. Their strengths will be a solid ground attack with some option thrown in with an improved defense.”

The win over Lansing gave Littrell a lot of good and bad to ponder moving forward.

“Last week's game against Lansing was a great win for our team, especially the way our defense played,” Littrell said. “We must improve on our mistakes on offense, defense and special teams. We had too many penalties on offense and missed tackles on defense.”

The team’s morale has definitely benefitted from a win.

“We have had some good practices this week,” Littrell said. “If we go out and improve on our mistakes and play with the same effort that we played with last week, then we have a chance to get another win.”

Lansing (0-1) at Bishop Ward (0-1), 7 p.m.

Lansing has a chance to bounce back from defeat when it travels to Bishop Ward, which was rolled 72-0 in its season opener at Basehor-Linwood.

A year ago, Lansing beat the Cyclones 46-0 in a storm-shortened game stopped early in the third quarter.

“Bishop Ward, based on their first game, will spread us out with four and five receivers on offense,” Lansing head coach John McCall said. “They will use a pressure defense based out of a 4-4 personnel group. Offensively, they will distribute the football evenly to both sides, searching for favorable matchups. Our offense will see several blitz schemes from their defense. Our goal for week two is visible improvement in all three phases of the game.”

McCall wasn’t happy with the loss, but did find a lot to hold on to. 

“The biggest positive from last week was how hard our kids played,” McCall said. “We were more successful on the defensive side, but had many opportunities on the offensive side as well. As a team, we must learn to take advantage of any opportunity allowed by our opponent.   

“Our football team is excited for week two. We are stressing simplicity in practice and look for raised confidence this week. The most important part of this week’s preparation is correcting our negative moments from week one.”   

Basehor-Linwood (1-0) at Spring Hill (0-1), 7 p.m.

The Bobcats from BLHS will take a step up in competition from Bishop Ward when they take their first road trip with a game at Spring Hill, a team they beat 50-12 a year ago.

The Broncos dropped a 23-14 home decision against Tonganoxie.

‘Spring Hill is an up and coming opponent. They tied for the Frontier League title a year ago and have a lot of nice pieces coming back,” BLHS head coach Rod Stallbaumer said. “They have some tall receivers on the outside that could cause some problems. The quarterback is the coach’s son and very athletic and their defense is physical and well-coached. It will be a real early season test for us.”

A 72-0 rollover win may not have best prepared the Bobcats.

“Weeks like last week are tough. I'm not sure we learned very much from that game,” Stallbaumer said. “Our second and third string got some valuable time and hopefully they learned a lot from the mistakes that we made.   

“We have been practicing well. This group has been pretty focused and confident. I think we are eager to play a good opponent like Spring Hill and see where we are at this point in the season.”