By Michael Kraske
The SM East Lancers lost for the first time since 2013 Friday night as the Lawrence Free State Firebirds defeated them 32-20.
Lancer Head Coach Dustin Delaney pinned the loss on poor defensive play and not preparing his team well enough.
In short, Delaney said, the Lancers could have done everything better.
“We had stupid penalties, turned the ball over early, and this is as poor of defense we’ve ever played,” the coach said. “I didn’t do a good enough job preparing our team.
We’ll get that fixed in the future.”
The Lancers’ first football game of October was played in the first truly chilly conditions of the season at SM North Stadium. Regardless, plenty of Lancer fans made it out for the homecoming game.
The game opened up mid-first quarter when Lancers junior Sky Tate broke free for a 70-yard touchdown catch from junior quarterback Luke Kaiser. Then, the Firebirds tied it, making it 7-7 to end the quarter.
The Lancers suffered a blow early when senior defensive end Luke Heisdorffer dislocated his elbow. The team declined to comment on how long he’ll be out.
After a grueling second quarter of mainly running plays from both teams, the Firebirds started breaking long runs off pitch plays to their running backs, including one 40-yard touchdown run. With the aid of a last-second field goal, the Firebirds took the lead at halftime, 22-20.
The Lancers couldn’t seem to get anything going for them in the second half. With the Firebirds scoring another touchdown and a field goal that barely grazed over the crossbar, the Lancers were handed their first loss.
Lancer senior running back Mike Bamford blamed the loss on the Firebirds aggressive play.
“Heisdorffer dislocated his elbow early on, that was big for us,” he said. “They were fast and [played] physical defense. We couldn’t stop their drives, and our offense couldn’t finish our drives.”
Both Delaney and Bamford are already looking ahead to their upcoming game on Friday against the Leavenworth Pioneers. Delaney also said Friday’s loss doesn’t affect the team’s chances to achieve their ultimate goal — winning state for the second consecutive year.
“We’re going to fix the issues we have this week, and it’s simple,” Delaney said. “We’re going to play better [next week].”