LVHS battles late in defeat at Shawnee Heights; Lansing eliminated

TECUMSEH - Sometimes things just don't quite go as well as scripted.

For Mark Littrell, head coach of the Leavenworth High football team, the 2017 season was one of clear improvement from the previous fall, but one that left him also wondering what what mind have been.

A 2-0 start beget a 3-5 finish and the hoped for home, Class 5A football district playoff game became a trip to Shawnee Heights on a blustery Friday night in late October.

It all amounted to a 40-21 loss to the No. 5 seeded Thunderbirds and the season comes to an end this weekend for the No. 12 Pioneers as the future now takes hold.

"At the beginning of the season I thought we could be a 4-4 or 5-3 team legitimately, but we needed to get that win at Shawnee Mission South and that one really hurt us and sticks out and haunts me more than anything," Littrell said. "North Kansas City I knew was going to be a battle because I knew they'd be physical. Then I thought we could have got Olathe South and we should have.

"You go 4-4 or 5-3 and you are playing someone other than Shawnee Heights and we're playing at home."

The two future United Kansas Conference rivals got started on the coldest night of the current fall season, but the Thunderbirds (7-2) were the ones bringing the heat, leading 13-0 at the end of the first quarter and 34-0 late in the first half.

Robert McKinley would connect on the first of two touchdown passes on the night, hitting Jaden Masterson right before the break to pull the Pioneers to within 34-7 as the team's headed to intermission. 

"We knew going in and seeing on film that they were a good football and they run their offense where you have to be assignment correct all the time," Littrell said. "If you make one mistake, you are in trouble. They changed a few blocking schemes on some things that we hadn't seen on film. They are a good team and offensively we have to be able to run the football and we had our troubles.

"You can't throw the football all the time."

Later McKinley would hit Andrew Ativie on a 35-yard touchdown pass in the game's waning moments, while Devin Johnson scored on a 60-yard touchdown run to account for the Pioneers' scoring.

"They didn't score in the third quarter and had all of their guys in there and so if we had started like that, the game could have been a tight game," Littrell said. "But it didn't so we have to learn from it and move on. 

"We had a dedicated group of seniors that worked their tails off and we are going to miss those guys, but we have to get ready for next year."

Lansing football sees season end

No. 4 seeded St. James Academy scored 42 unanswered points after an early touchdown by the No. 13 Lansing Lions and rolled to a 49-7 Class 5A East District playoff game on Friday night.

Lansing (2-7), whose season ended, got a first quarter, 16-yard touchdown pass from Jahleal Sweet to Tre'Matt Pledger to tie the game at 7-all in the first quarter.