Redskins look to end season on high
Thursday, 28 October 2010 10:54
By EARL WATT
• Daily Leader
Liberal will be playing for one thing Friday night when the Wichita West Pioneers come to town, and it’s the same thing they play for in every game — a victory.
Liberal was eliminated from playoff contention last week in a loss to defending state champion Hutchinson, but head coach Wade Standley said there was still a fire in his team.
“For the seniors, it is their last game,” he said. “They want to go out on a good note. For the underclassmen, these guys have character. They are fighters. They have one game, and as long as we have games to play, we will do it to the best of our ability.”
Liberal shot out to a 2-0 start to the season before dropping a game to Hays in the Western Athletic Conference opener.
Due to some disciplinary action and injuries, five Liberal starters were sidelined, four of them for the rest of the season. That forced Standley to pull some younger players up to the varsity level against arguably one of the toughest schedules in Class 5A.
While those players were learning under the lights on Friday, the losses continued to mount for the Redskins.
But last week, the revamped Redskins pushed the six-time defending state champions to a 13-6 score with one second to go in the first half. Liberal eventually lost 41-13, but the ability to stay close with the Salthawks was proof that the Redskins could compete with the best teams in Kansas.
With Wichita West coming to Liberal for the season finale, the Redskins still need to develop the talent and work within the system to provide confidence for next season.
“We want to finish up with our best game of the year,” Standley said. “I think obviously there were times in that game (against Hutchinson) where they know they can play with anybody. We have to be more consistent. Their spirits have been good. Just being able to do some of the things we did against Hutch gave them some confidence.”
Wichita West will run a spread offense behind a big front line. The Redskins will need to make tackles on first contact or the West skill players may be able to break loose for big gains with their speed and agility.
“They are better than they were a year ago,” Standley said.
Wichita West will also be seeking its third win of the season with wins over Wichita North and Wichita South.
The Redskins have wins over Ulysses and Guymon. A victory over Wichita West would be the first Class 5A victory of the year for the Redskins.
The seniors will be recognized prior to kick-off Friday night.
“They are a quality group of seniors,” Standley said. “They have shown leadership. They persevered through some tough times. They are a great group of young men. I love them.”
While the focus will be on the seniors, the success or failure will lie with the younger players who have had to answer the varsity call, and some may still be trying to impress to earn the nod for a starting position next season.
“Over the last few weeks it has been a chance for the young guys to prove what they can do under pressure,” Standley said. “This game will just be a continuation of that.”
Senior Recognition will precede the 7 p.m. kick-off Friday at Redskin Field.