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Lawrence Central Faces Pivotal Test Against LN

Class 6A No. 3 Bears meet No. 10 Wildcats in Friday night’s Battle for the Bell on FM 107.5 and 1070 The Fan

With both teams 2-0, Lawrence North hosts Lawrence Central on Friday in a battle for hardware and momentum in the ultra-tough Metropolitan Interscholastic Conference.


In his second season at LC, coach Bill Peebles has seen steady improvement.


“We have a great group of young men – very easy to coach, great attitude and we have some talent,” Peebles said. “In some areas we’re pretty young, and we’re going to have to play a lot better to beat Lawrence North.”


After a season-opening 40-6 win over McCutcheon, LC notched a 24-16 victory against Chatard last week. In the latter, quarterback Donyell Meredith threw for 181 yards and three touchdowns, and ran for 64 yards in just eight carries.


“He’s a good decision maker and throws a good ball,” Peebles said. “We ask him to make a lot of reads, and he’s done a really good job running our offense.”


John Childs had 16 carries for 135 yards against a solid, disciplined Chatard defense.


“He had a hip injury at the end of last season, which he didn’t get fully released from until late July,” Peebles said. “We didn’t know how he’d do with that, but he’s over 100 yards in each game, averaging nearly 10 yards per carry, has great feet and vision. He’s a banger in there.”


Donivan Wright (109 yards and two TDs against Chatard), Lashon Bright and Kirk Pinkston have big-play ability at wideout.


“They’re all very comparable,” Peebles said. “(Wright) has made the most of his opportunities. Both his catches last week came on third-and-long – one over a defender, another where he made four people miss on his way to the end zone.”


Up front, 6-3, 255-pound Purdue commit Branson Deen is a force on both sides of the ball.


“He’s our only two-way player. It’s rare to have them in the MIC, but he’s that good,” Peebles said. “He had six solo tackles and five assists on defense last week, and he’s the guy who finishes every block. He wants his guy to be on his back at the end of a play.”


Deen and linebacker Cameron McGrone – a Michigan commit and tackle machine – made an immediate impression on Peebles when he took the job.


“When I walked in the weight room, I didn’t know their names yet, but they blew me away. They’ve earned being two-year captains,” Peebles said. “Cameron is a game-changer, integral to our success on the field.”


Manny Bellamy – who Peebles called the “quarterback of the defense” – and outside linebacker Allan Augustus also power LC on the stop side.


Recent history says Friday’s match-up should be a close one. The last two seasons, LC beat LN by a total of three points.


“Their two wins this season are more impressive than ours,” Peebles said. “We have to get better in practice this week. If we don’t, it’ll be a long night.”

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