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Game of the Week -- Osborne rolls past Lakeside

By CONOR NICHOLL

cnicholl@dailynews.net

OSBORNE -- Osborne High School senior Maverick LeRock is a big, strong player at 6-foot-3, 200 pounds. LeRock has gained 50 pounds since his freshman season and has rushed for 1,910 career yards. This fall, though, LeRock moved from defensive end to nose guard, raised his aggressiveness and become a dominant force on both sides of the ball.

"He is a powerhouse," Osborne senior Collin Berkley said. "He is an ox."

"He is Mr. 100 mile an hour," third-year Bulldog coach Steve Tiernan added.

On Friday, LeRock and Osborne delivered one of the top defensive performances since the Bulldogs switched to eight-man four years ago. Osborne rolled to a 54-8 home victory against Downs-Lakeside and LeRock finished with three tackles for loss, a sack, an interception and a forced fumble that resulted in the game's first score.

"He can just go," Tiernan said of LeRock at nose. "There is no thinking to it. Just go run over somebody. He has done that very well."

Osborne, ranked No. 2 in Eight-Man Division I in the statewide media poll, moved to 3-0, 1-0 district play. Rival Lakeside dropped to 0-3, 0-1. The game was called at halftime because of the 45-point mercy rule. It marked LeRock's first interception and forced fumble of his career. His 7.3 tackles per game is also the best mark of any season.

"I can feel it myself, too," LeRock said. "I am a lot more aggressive than I was last year. I am just excited. It started over the summer. We want to the best team out there. That's one of our goals. You are not going to get there being nice."

Known much more for offense in the program's eight-man era, Osborne has improved defensively this season.

"We have kind of got the pieces put together to be a lot better defensively than what we have been," Tiernan said.

The Bulldogs, Kansas' top-scoring eight-man offense, has outscored opponents 182-62. Friday marked the second-fewest points Osborne has allowed in eight-man and tied a 52-6 win against Stockton last year as the best with Tiernan.

The Bulldogs led 46-0 after the first quarter and rested many key players, including senior running back Kenton Ubelaker and sophomore running back Jake Tiernan for nearly all of the second quarter. Tiernan never threw a pass and remained 14 of 14 for the fall.

"We worry about what we do whether the other team is great or the other team is poor," Coach Tiernan said. "We did that. We performed to our level."

Osborne was mentally and physically focused from the start, while the Knights struggled firing off the ball and playing with enthusiasm, a season-long issue.

"We talk about it everyday," Lakeside coach Kody Tegtmeier said. "We do drills everyday to get low and fire off. It's one of those things that we didn't do."

On the game's third play, LeRock sacked Lakeside junior quarterback Shayne Renken for a five-yard loss. The ball popped free and Ubelaker scooped it up for a touchdown. After the Knights went 3-and-out, Osborne scored in four plays on a 1-yard Ubelaker run. Ubelaker finished with three carries for 97 yards and three TDs, including scores of 53 and 43 yards.

"As much as anything, it's do or die," coach Tiernan said of his squad with seven seniors. "Either you are going to do it this year, or you are never going to do it, and they have bought into that. We've got a great group of seniors, good leaders. Everybody does their job. That's probably the most important thing that I have said about tonight."

On Lakeside's third possession, sophomore Tristen Winkel fumbled at the 6-yard line and junior Parkes Wolters recovered the ball. LeRock, a hard runner, delivered a TD on the next play for a 22-0 lead.

"We are just not excited about playing football," Tegtmeier said. "We just don't get excited about it. We don't have any enthusiasm. We don't know what's going on half the time. We tell a kid to do something and he does the opposite or he just doesn't do it. It's plain and simple. We've got to figure it out, if we want to play football or if we don't."

Osborne pushed the lead to 30-0 with 6 minutes, 31 seconds left in the third quarter. LeRock picked off a pass and returned it 15 yards to Lakeside's 13-yard line. Jake Tiernan scored on the next play. Osborne has put in several different defenses, including some that don't feature a nose guard. On the interception, LeRock had changed positions.

"They said that if we switched from our snake defense to our cat defense, they would move me to linebacker," LeRock said. "I read the quarterback, and when he threw, I was in the right place."