AREA FOOTBALL SCORES:
Pleasant Ridge 50
Jefferson County North 30
For the second week in a row, the Leavenworth High School football team's problems began in the trenches.
The Pioneers averaged 1.5 yards a rush during their 15-6 loss to the Olathe Northwest Ravens. Totaling 28 carries , Leavenworth finished the night with 42 yards of total rushing.
Olathe Northwest entered the game knowing how to hinder the Pioneer offense — throw as many players in the box as possible and let a shorthanded secondary deal with whatever might escape.
Playing with one safety nearly the entire night, the Ravens opted for an extra linebacker instead of bolstering its secondary, causing its 3-4 defense to look, and play, more like a 4-4.
And the Pioneers knew it was coming.
"We had trouble blocking the front, we had trouble all night," Littrell said. "We knew from film that they were going to load up and have eight in the box. They played with one free safety to stop our run game and they did a good job."
Three different Pioneer running backs touched the ball the whole night, with senior running back Sanchez Williams receiving the majority of carries in the position group with four, totaling 17 yards. Senior quarterback Landry Hodges led the Pioneers on the ground with 15 carries for 14 yards, most of which came from dodging defensive linemen in his face.
He said the team's size gave the Pioneers a distinct disadvantage up front.
"Their defensive line fired off the ball really well," Hodges said. "We're obviously not the biggest team, but we just have to work hard, fire off, stay low, just do the fundamentals right."
Littrell said if the Pioneers want to have any success running the football, it's time to find a full-time back.
"We have to find somebody that wants to step up and be a running back," Littrell said. "We've been kind of running back by committee, getting different guys. We just have to settle on one, get him in there and get him the reps."
The only successful drive of the night for the Pioneers came through the air, ending with a 25 yard pass that fell safely into the outstretched arms of senior wide receiver Isaiah Ross. ...
Ross led the team in receiving, catching seven passes for 81 yards and a touchdown.
The Pioneer defense kept busy all night, as Olathe Northwest dominated possession. The Ravens held the ball for 34 minutes of the game, compared to Leavenworth's 14 minutes.
Yet, as they've done before, the defense held on tight and hoped for an offensive showing. Besides the only scoring drive of the night, it never came.
"The defense gave us every opportunity to score on offense," Littrell said. "I thought our kids played their tails off, I don't think they ever gave up, I was proud of the way they played. We just have to get better on offense."
Olathe Northwest totaled 216 yards of total offense, 169 of which came on the ground. Though with 48 rushing attempts, the Pioneer defense allowed just 3.5 yards per rush.
Coming off two straight losses, the 1-2 Pioneers now have a short trip to Lawrence to look forward to.
Leavenworth is slated to face Lawrence Free State High School at 7 p.m. next Friday, and just like the two games prior, Littrell said to expect more of the same hard-nosed football that comes with playing in the Sunflower League.
"They'll be physical up front," Littrell said. "We're going to see basically the same thing. They're going to play with one safety and they're going to roll people down to try and stop the run and dare us to throw the ball. And we have to be more effective throwing it."
Free State picked up a cross-town victory last night, defeating Lawrence High School 31-12 just a week after the Pioneers' 21-14 road loss to the Lions.