Football coaches Walt Alexander, Bob Lisher renew rivalry in Baldwin City

Greg Mast
The Ottawa Herald

Two successful high school football coaches — who are trying to resurrect downtrodden programs — will meet again Friday with their new teams.

Ottawa’s Walt Alexander and Baldwin’s Bob Lisher are no strangers to each other. The two battled many times when Alexander was at Topeka High and Lisher coached at Free State.

Ottawa High School junior Zion Woodin will be one of the weapons coach Walt Alexander will use to move the ball against Baldwin.

Alexander went 89-50 in 14 seasons at Topeka, while Lisher was 148-85 during his FSHS tenure. He led the Firebirds to five Sunflower League titles and seven Class 6A semifinal appearances.

“We are two old guys that still love to coach,” Alexander said.

Ottawa and Baldwin play 7 p.m. Friday in Baldwin City. One of the old coaching adversaries will record their first win at their new gig.

“I know coach Bob Lisher extremely well,” Alexander said. “Coach and I have had our battles. It is a lot of fun. We coached in the Shrine Bowl [together] the first time we met. It is going to be interesting.”

Alexander does not expect a Lisher-coached team to be an easy opponent, but does have a good understanding of his system.

“We have an idea what they are trying to do,” the Cyclone coach said. “They are going to run a lot of speed option. They will mix it up with a little play-action. He always has been speed option, outside zone kind of coach. I think that is what they will try to do.

“They will play a 50-front on defense. Coach Lister is the master of that. He has been coaching that ever since his Lawrence days. He was on that staff. They will be aggressive. Coach will having them playing hard. We won’t take anything for granted.”

The Cyclones went back to work this week looking to right the mistakes and make better decisions than they did against Piper.

“Our kids did some really good things on Friday and they know it,” he said. “We need to correct some of the mistakes we made. We have to worry about what we do, do it faster and do it better. We have to keep getting better at what we do. We have to display a little more physical [play] and be a little more mentally tougher. That will come with time.”

Alexander’s philosophy is to treat each game the same.

“We do a lot of preparation that goes into each and every week, especially defensively getting ready for an opponent,” Alexander said. “We will focus hard on that. We treat every game like the state championship game as far as preparation. That will never change.

“Hopefully, you see improvement each week. We are trying to get better each and every week. That is what we are going to try to do this week.”