|Keith Loneker. Rivals.com|
Lawrence Free State
Weight: 210 lbs.
Stat to Note
Loneker earned Second Team All-Sunflower League honors as a linebacker last fall. He was one of just seven juniors to earn First or Second team honors on defense.
Every year you see a couple plays in the Sunflower League that leave you with an almost iconic memory. For me, one of those plays took place last fall, when Free State and Lawrence matched up in the regular season finale. Both teams were 7-1 and it was the most hyped Battle of Lawrence we've ever seen.
Late in the fourth quarter, Free State was leading 21-14, but Lawrence had just created a turnover and looked primed for a game-tying drive. Loneker lined up on the left side of the line, with a clear intention of blitzing. The ball was snapped and he ran untouched towards Lawrence quarterback Brad Strauss. Strauss made a quick release, but Loneker managed to get a mitt up to bat the ball in the air. Free State lineman Cody Stanclift tracked the ball, made the interception and took it in for a score. The standing room only stadium erupted as Free State sealed the victory. I'll never forget that moment, nor the trio of players involved in that play -- including Loneker.
A deceptively quick linebacker, with excellent coverage skills, Loneker had a stellar junior campaign (87 tackles, one fumble recovery and one punt block) but it was somewhat overshadowed because he played alongside senior Corban Schmidt, who was one of the league's more notable defensive players. This season Loneker will be an unquestioned leader of the Free State defense. He should easily surpass the 100-tackle mark, in the process establishing himself as one of, if not the best linebackers in the league.