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Morning Sun
  • SISNEY: The Lancers are for real

  • Keeping it real. I hate that phrase. I'd rather hear "Keeping it phony," "Keeping it pseudo," or "Keeping it quasi-real."

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  • Keeping it real. I hate that phrase. I'd rather hear "Keeping it phony," "Keeping it pseudo," or "Keeping it quasi-real."
    Anyway, when I returned to Pittsburg State University in 2008 to start on another degree, I noticed "The Real Movement" had taken over the vocabularies and conversational patterns of the next generation. It must somehow be related to the proliferation of "reality" shows on our television sets, I thought as I continued to hear "For real" or its not-so-distant cousin "Fo' real" all over campus. Aren't we "real" already? What's all this focus on "authenticity"? I thought, "Is this conversation for real or am I having another bad dream." I am just keeping it real on the Antisocial Network.
    In the sports world, you might often hear similar phrases. Like, for example, I've been hearing a lot of "I knew Southeast was for real after they beat Columbus and then it took two overtimes for Fort Scott to beat Columbus the next week" and "I didn't believe Southeast could beat Columbus, so when they did that and then beat Frontenac the next week, I knew the Lancers are for real." The Lancers are for real.
    Of course, I am not surprised that Southeast won its first two games against two Class 4A opponents and I am not shocked that Northeast ended its 19-game losing streak Monday night by defeating Fredonia 34-14.
    Not too long ago, I told more than one person that Southeast and even Northeast would have great shots at winning football games this season, not next season. I did not predict a final number but I said they'll both win more football games than one this year. They looked at me like I was crazy.
    I thought Southeast could finish as one of the best teams in the Crawford-Neosho-Cherokee League and round out what will be one competitive district between Riverton, Galena and St. Mary's Colgan.
    Let's take a brief look at some factors at play here in Southeast going 2-0.
    • Southeast returned every starter from last year. Yes, that's right, every starter from last year. Most teams would consider it a godsend to have 11 returning starters total but all 11 offensive and all 11 defensive starters in 2011 came back for Southeast in 2012. Talking with head coach Clint Rider on the eve of the first practice, he thought all those returning starters could pay dividends early on and help build momentum for a tough district schedule at the end of the regular season.
    • Rider's in his second year as head coach, and that means his players have adjusted to him as head coach and he's adjusted to his players. The players jumped right in at the start of practice this year, no more installing a new system on both offense and defense. Coach Rider said that his players enter conversations with him now speaking at the same level of "coach speak." Beyond that, senior quarterback Josh Thompson was a first-time quarterback, switching positions from running back to quarterback his junior year; he's shown his progress in the first couple games this season and he's formed a strong bond with receivers Daniel Peak and Ryan Rakestraw.
    Page 2 of 2 - • Just spending a few minutes out at an early preseason practice, Southeast passed the Eye Test. Rider talked about the strides the players made in the offseason conditioning and weights programs and seeing the players at practice, I saw what he meant immediately. They looked more like football players than last season.
    • Southeast features improved play on both its offensive and defensive lines. The Lancers more than held their own last week against Frontenac, they controlled a team reputed for its offensive and defensive line play. If Southeast consistently establishes its run game this season, this will make Southeast a tough offense to slow down.
    • Southeast was the only Crawford County team last year which finished its season with a win. Colgan and Frontenac lost in the playoffs, Pittsburg and Girard lost the last game of the season with playoff berths at stake, and Southeast beat Northeast in the season finale.
    Of course, I also had my doubts. After all, Southeast finished 1-8 last season and gave up tons of points and yards game-after-game. Against Frontenac last week, Southeast allowed one offensive touchdown and one TD on special teams.
    The running game, offensive and defensive line play, and scoring defense were the X-factors entering the season because Southeast proved it could put up points on the scoreboard last year through its passing attack. If Southeast continues to play well in those areas, the wins just might continue.
    Of course, Southeast could run the table in pre-district games and go 0-3 in district, missing the playoffs. Every game in district should be a perpetual dogfight, especially with all four teams being league rivals. There’s no guarantees in high school football, especially during October and November.
    The Lancers have quickly evolved into the early feel-good story of the football season. We like seeing a community rally around its players, who have been through so much together during their first three years of high school. We like seeing hard work pay off in the wins column. We like seeing teams make a successful turnaround. We all like an underdog, except for when that underdog plays our favorite team.
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