A year later, the Shawnee Mission East High School football team plans to dodge the case of the nerves the Lancers experienced prior to the 2013 Kansas Class 6A state championship game.
SM East Coach Dustin Delaney remembers watching his Lancers fumble on the first play during pregame in last year’s state title game. He also recalls Derby fans heckling in the background. In the end, the Lancers lost to Derby 28-21.
Fast forward to this week.
SM East takes aim on another bid for a state title when the Lancers face Hutchinson at 1 p.m. on Saturday at Emporia State University. The Lancers are undefeated after clinching a share of the Sunflower League title.
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“We have 16 kids who will start on Saturday who started last year’s state championship game, so the newness of playing at state and the jitters won’t be there,” Delaney said. “Obviously, Hutch won’t have it either, since it is their 10th in 12 years, but it is good.”
Delaney is well aware of the Salthawks’ success, having worked under then-Hutchinson coach Randy Dreiling for four of their seven state titles in eight seasons. Although Hutchinson has a new look with Dreiling now coaching at St. Thomas Aquinas, Delaney said the Salthawks are as good as ever.
SM East has plenty of pride, though, with a team-best 29 rushing touchdowns for Wyatt Edmisten and another solid year from quarterback Gunnar Englund, who passed for 1,191 yards and 19 touchdowns. He has completed 45 of 91 pass attempts.
Defensively, SM East will turn to Division I recruit Kyle Ball, who has 10 sacks and 112 tackles, including 37 for loss.