Thoughts from Friday night: Pioneers spoil Lansing homecoming with rivalry win
One of the most anticipated matchups of the high school football season in Leavenworth County was played Friday as Leavenworth (2-2) faced Lansing (2-2) for the Lions' homecoming game.
The meeting of two 2-2 teams resulted in a defensive battle that saw just 21 combined points scored and the Pioneers come out on top 14-7. Both sides of the stadium were packed as Lion fans swarmed the home side for homecoming and Pioneer supporters made the brief trip across Eisenhower Road.
"Anytime Lansing and Leavenworth play, it's always a really fun atmosphere," Leavenworth head coach Sean Sachen said. "A lot of these kids grew up together and played youth football together. I'm just happy we came out on the winning side and I'm proud of the kids for the effort and sticking with it staying focused."
Both teams struggled to gain momentum on offense in the first quarter, resulting in a couple of punts from each side. The Lions appeared to be moving the ball on their second drive of the ball but a pass from quarterback Caden Crawford was intercepted by Michael Mejia to halt any progress.
The Lions and Pioneers both sport run-heavy offenses with Lansing boasting a crowded backfield while Leavenworth got its production from quarterback Eddie McLaughlin and running back Sam Curtis.
"I don't know where our heads were offensively," Sachen said, "but we settled down defense played really well to hold them to seven."
Neither team completed a pass in the opening quarter but the Lions ended that drought with direct results in the second quarter with the game still scoreless. After starting their fourth drive of the game from their 15-yard line, Crawford connected with Lexton Grafke to move the ball close to midfield, then found Richie Patrick, who burned his defender for 55 yards to open the scoring.
Trailing 7-0 with less than six minutes in the half, the Pioneers got their passing game going too as McLaughlin found Alexander Finn for a 47-yard gain to put Leavenworth in the redzone. On the very next play, McLaughlin took a designed run to the left side from 19-yards out to even the score at 7-7 going into halftime.
The third quarter went much like the first as neither team could mount a scoring drive to break the tie. Just as the Pioneers appeared to be gaining momentum to score, McLaughlin was picked off by Patrick in the endzone.
Lansing took possession and ran with it in the waning minutes of the third, moving into Pioneer territory. However, a neutral zone infraction on the Lions - a mistake that showed itself a handful of times throughout the game - plus a sack by Marquel Hudson ended the quarter. Lansing was able to recover and move up to the Pioneer 20 where it faced 4th-and-1. Despite appearing to be going for the conversion initially, Lansing burned two consecutive timeouts before electing to bring the field goal unit out. The 37-yard attempt by Liam Zell was wide left and gave Leavenworth the ball.
The Pioneers grabbed the momentum and ran with it on the ensuing drive as McLaughlin connected with Finn for a 40-yard score to break the tie and give Leavenworth a 14-7 lead with less than 10 minutes in the game.
"He's (McLaughlin) still got a lot of things to learn," Sachen said. "But he just he's so dynamic, with his legs and his arm. Sometimes he tries to do things that he doesn't need to so I tell him you don't always have to hit home runs, you can take base hits, and when he starts understanding that he's gonna be really good."
Lansing advanced into Leavenworth territory on the following drive but ran into penalty trouble again, followed by a sack by Trenton Harper for a 12-yard loss. The Lions got a punt off but a Pioneer was called for roughing the kicker, giving the Lions a new set of downs at the 25 with five minutes remaining.
The Lions drove down to the six-yard line before facing fourth-and-goal but the Pioneer defense forced an incompletion and took over possession.
Due to Lansing having just one timeout left, Leavenworth just needed a first down to start running the clock down but the Lions forced a punt to start one final offensive drive from the Pioneer 42 with 27 seconds left.
After a couple of quick gains, Lansing got to the 10-yard line with five seconds left to set up one shot at the endzone. A well-designed play saw Crawford roll right before letting a pass go to the endzone but the ball went through the hands of the intended receiver, ending the game.
The Pioneers move to 3-2 overall this season and will host Turner Friday for their homecoming game. Lansing drops to 2-3 and will play at Pittsburg Friday.
Bobcats move to 5-0 with homecoming win
Lansing wasn't the only local homecoming game Friday as Class 4A No. 2 Basehor-Linwood hosted Shawnee Heights with hopes of maintaining its undefeated record and lead in the United Kansas Conference.
The Bobcats wasted no time jumping ahead and scored three touchdowns in the first quarter to lead the Thunderbirds 21-0. Quarterback Brady Garrison connected with Brant Wilson for a 49-yard touchdown to open the scoring, then Garrison did it himself from 46-yards out to build a two-score lead. Senior running back Zack Sisemore added the third touchdown with a seven-yard scamper.
The Bobcats took their 21-0 lead into halftime after a scoreless second quarter but got the offense going again in the third frame as Garrison found Nelson for a 7-yard score. The Thunderbirds found the endzone later in the quarter to avoid the shutout but that's all they would get.
Garrison connected with Sisemore for a 23-yard touchdown then junior running back Jekai Harris got in on the scoring with an 18-yard run to cap a 42-7 win for the Bobcats.
The Bobcat defense stood tall once again as the Thunderbirds averaged less than four yards per play in the contest. Senior linebackers Sam Hicks, Aiden Ingram and Tucker Dixon combined for over 20 tackles with Hicks notching four of them for losses. Basehor-Linwood is allowing an average of just over 10 points scored by its opponents.
Basehor-Linwood will look to improve to 6-0 Friday with Washington (Kansas City, Kansas) set to visit.
Sisemore sets TD record
Last season, Sisemore set the single-season rushing yard and rushing touchdown records for the Bobcats and had his eyes on the career records coming into this season. Against Heights Friday, Sisemore broke the career rushing touchdown record with his seventh of the season.
The senior is currently sporting 625 yards on 98 carries this season for an average of over six yards per carry. He's also a threat in the receiving game with nine catches for 159 yards and two touchdowns.
Rams rout McLouth 50-0, improve to 4-1
Pleasant Ridge faced a winless team for the second straight week and denied their opponent's first win again with a 50-0 beatdown of McLouth on the road Friday.
Senior Devin Stutz opened the scoring with a 64-yard punt return, followed by a successful two-point try to give the Rams an 8-0 lead. Pleasant Ridge got its next two scores on touchdown runs of 45 and nine yards from Colten Potter to build a 20-0 lead. The Rams went into halftime up 28-0 after quarterback Cooper Beying found Stutz for a 22-yard touchdown.
Pleasant Ridge didn't let off the gas in the second half as Beying found Evan Slapper for two touchdowns in the third quarter. Slapper finished as the game's leading receiver with four catches for 87 yards and two scores.
Potter notched his third total touchdown of the night as he caught a 13-yard pass from Beying to capitalize the blowout win.
Pleasant Ridge will face another Bulldogs team Friday but this time it will be Class 2A No. 1 Rossville on the road. The Dogs are 5-0 and defeated Oskaloosa 62-0 Friday.