By BILL PETERSON
Editor at Large
The story begins the same every week of the district football season for the Lehman Lobos, who continue holding out hope for the week that will end differently.
The Lobos begin the week licking their wounds from a district loss as they try to collect themselves for another district opponent, which, inevitably, has more, better players. The Lobos have played 15 district games in their three-year lifetime, ending every effort with a loss from which they are to recover before trying it again.
“Everybody loves the underdog,” Lehman coach Steve Davis said dryly.
Davis loves his underdogs, too, even if he’s tired of them being underdogs. At the same time, most adults understand that he’s kind of stuck with it until the Lobos start generating the numbers to at least play something more like two-platoon football.
While it has been endlessly turned over that the Lobos are trying to play Class 4A football with a 28-man varsity, Davis concerns himself more with the execution from the players who are present.
Last Friday night, for example, the Lobos lost, 47-28, to Manor. The game started with promise when the Lobos drove straight down field after the opening kickoff, then that promise vaporized when running back R.J. Hardaway fumbled at the one-yard line.
“You just can’t do that in a district game,” Davis said. “Then, the next time we had the ball, we threw a pass interception on a three-receiver route, and all three receivers were open.”
Those are the types of misplays that keep Davis from fixating on his short supply of players. Serial misplays of the kind that haunt Lehman would kill a football team with twice as many players.
So, the Lobo move on to try again for a district victory Friday night, when they travel to Elgin. The Panthers are sure to be in an angry mood after their bizarre, 26-20 overtime loss last week to Hays. Elgin led, 20-7, deep into the fourth quarter. The Rebels tied the game on a 97-yard touchdown pass from Paul Breyfogle to Trevell Jones with 31 seconds left. The pass bounced off wide receiver Trey Berry’s head before landing in Jones’ arms.
Elgin runs out of the Slot-T, dividing the carries fairly evenly between quarterback Tyler Swenson and three running backs – Derrick Falke, Kelton McMillan and Kevin Weaver. The four have combined for 980 rushing yards, with Falke leading the way at 308.
“You have to stay disciplined in there against them,” Davis said. “Offensively, they try to lull you to sleep with two- and three-yard gains, then they pop a big one on you.”
Lehman will try to keep up with its two biggest offensive guns, Hardaway and quarterback Chris Duran. Hardaway tops the Lobos with 803 rushing yards and 11 touchdowns.
Duran’s performance, more generally, is the difference between whether the Lobos move the ball or not. When he’s on, the Lobos can put up points. But the senior has completed only 33 of 83 passes for 559 yards, with five touchdowns and seven interceptions.
“We’ve asked a lot of Chris Duran to come in for his senior year to play quarterback,” Davis said. “He played running back for us last year and we moved him in the spring. I needed a quarterback in the spring and he had a good arm.”
That kind of move, made from that kind of necessity, says something about why the Lobos are 3-3 overall and 0-1 in the district. Three years into their existence as a varsity, the Lobos haven’t yet matured a pipeline that can produce quarterbacks in regular succession.
But the big picture is a lot better. The freshman class has 60 football players. By the time those players are age bit more, the Lobos will be that much more competitive. But they certainly don’t want to wait that long before they win a district football game.Email | Print