Four meetings in the state championship game from 1984 to 1989 highlight a rivalry that stretches back more than 100 years.
Lawrence reigned supreme over Class 6A during those times, winning nine state titles from 1979 to 1995.
Three of those came at the expense of the Indians. Lawrence downed two undefeated bids for Manhattan in the 1984 (29-3) and 1987 (17-12) title games before the Indians brought home a trophy of their own with a 14-7 win in 1988.
“It was always a good rivalry and it was excellent competition,” said former Manhattan assistant coach Greg Marn, who coached on those teams in the 1980s. “(Legendary former Manhattan head coach Lew Lane) was an outstanding coach. Just a great motivator. Everybody enjoyed playing football back then. We were pretty much a two-platoon (team), so we got a lot of players on the field and we just played hard-nosed football. We ran the ball and we ran the ball and just had good athletes at the time.”
The two teams met again the next season and the Lions exacted revenge, winning 28-21.
Clint Bowen, Lawrence High’s current head coach and a former University of Kansas assistant coach, starred for his alma mater from 1986 to 1989.
"He was a ball of fire," Marn said. "He never quit. He wasn't anything special (physically). He wasn't very big or anything like that or super fast. He was just a competitor."
Lawrence once was one of the largest high schools in the state before Free State High School was built in 1997, dividing the school and the talent pool in half.
The series stretches back to 1916, with Lawrence holding a 38-15-3 lead over Manhattan in the 56 games played between the two schools.
“We’ve mentioned it,” MHS head coach Joe Schartz said about the history between the two programs. “I don’t know if it registered with the kids, but there’s a long history here. In the 80s, both teams were powerhouses and it seemed like they matched up every year. Once Lawrence split, they went dormant for about 15 years. But now it seems that both schools are back and powerful.”