Undefeated streak continues against Shawnee Mission South Raiders

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Undefeated streak continues against Shawnee Mission South Raiders

By Henry DeWitt and Cameron Bohmann

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Yesterday’s win (40-21) over the Shawnee Mission South Raiders continued the Chesty Lion’s undefeated streak to 6-0 for the season.

This success shows Lawrence High has come a long way since last year, when the team went 1-8. It’s not just the team record that looks different, it’s also the line up.

Last season, the Lions had a run-heavy offense led by then sophomore quarterback Tre Jackson. Jackson was primarily a running quarterback with the Lions, featuring a lot of speed option plays. A speed option is a play where the quarterback has the option to pitch it to the trailing running back or choose to run the ball himself. 

While speed option offenses can be very effective, when the defense knows how to shut it down, the offense can go stagnant, which was often the case last season.

This season, the Lions biggest change has been promoting junior Jackson Dooley to starting quarterback. Dooley spent last year as a backup to Tre Jackon. While Jackson is no longer the starting quarterback, he is still a vital part of the Lions’ offense as a wide receiver. 

The offense that the Lions are able to run under Dooley is much different than the offense that was run last year. The offense has shifted from a run heavy speed option offense to a primarily run pass option offense.

The run pass option is one of the most effective plays in football. When the ball is snapped, the quarterback is expected to immediately read the defense and decide whether to pass the ball or hand the ball off to the running back. That is where the Lions have found most of their success this season.

Running a lot of run pass options requires a smart quarterback like Dooley, and is helped by having a powerhouse running back like junior running back Devin Neal.

Devin Neal has been the star of the Lions offense this year, finding success game after game, run after run. Neal’s ability to accelerate through holes made by the offensive line, break tackles, and beat the defense to the edge is far above what a high schooler should be able to do. To a point, it is almost unfair. 

Dooley often chooses to hand the ball off to Neal on run pass options, but when he decides to throw the ball, receivers Chris Mcgee and Tre Jackson give the Lions superb speed and hands that makes it hard for the opposing cornerbacks to defend. Game after game, Dooley will float a ball high, trusting his receivers to come down with it, and time after time, they do.

Not only has the offense shined, the defense has kept the Lions away from many close games. 

One of the many stand out defensemen has been junior free safety Corbin Oberzan, who has amounted to a whopping six interceptions on the year. A free safety preventing long chunk plays is very valuable to a defense, and Oberzan has been just that.

With offense and defense hitting on all cylinders, let’s not forget about the special teams. junior kicker and punter and Free State transfer Conner Gellender has been reliable on extra points and crucial to the Lions at flipping the field position on some long punts.

Overall, the team energy looks very changed. The team looks hungry to win. Every play, every player gives their all. In particular senior Cole Morris has stood out as a hustler on defense, coming on some plays from all the way across the field to make the pursuit tackle to prevent big plays.

It is easy to be worrisome about a successful team after witnessing the team go 1-8 the year before. It is easy to be skeptical and expect an inevitable downfall. But Lions have proved that they can match up well against top teams by beating Gardner-Edgerton, one of the top ranked schools.