In Lawrence, Kan., the balance of high school football power has always been with Lawrence High School.
Year after year, the Lions have been one of the state's top programs. However, a stellar class of several high quality recruits could finally start to shift the balance to the west side of the city to Free State High School.
Led by what will likely be the top player in the state in tight end/defensive end Christian Ballard and twin athletes Ryan Murphy and Brian Murphy the 2006 season is shaping up to be possibly the biggest in the school first opened back in 1997.
Ballad is an early Kansas commitment, but coaches are continuing to recruit him hard and he could explode on the national level as a major two-way threat at tight end and defensive end. While his story will be interesting to follow, it might be hard to compare it to the twists and turns that twin teammates Brian and Ryan Murphy will have to go through over the next few months.
You see the early perception with some college coaches is that Ryan is the more highly regarded of the two prospects. Ryan, a 5-foot-10, 170-pounder with 4.46-second speed, already has an early scholarship offer from Kansas. Brian, who is 5-foot-8 and 165 pounds, doesn't have any offers and the Jayhawks talked to him early on about grayshirting.
But Ryan doesn't see the difference and believes both he and his brother have what it takes to be Division I prospects.
"He's definitely a Division I player," Ryan, who projects as a cornerback back despite playing quarterback in high school, said. "KU was talking to me about when they offered me they would then maybe offer him a scholarship after a year. He's always wanted to sign and go somewhere and doesn't want to walk-on somewhere.
"I'm very surprised somebody hasn't offered us both yet, because I don't know if there is that much difference in our talent. We're both good at what we do."
Brian agrees that he, too, is a legit D-I recruit.
"I think I make plays really well," Brian, an all-purpose back, said. "Every time I touch the ball, I think I can take it to the house. I see myself mainly playing running back in college, maybe corner. But I'll play anywhere they ask me to."
Both twins are competitive both on and off the field. Ask them which one is the ladies man and Bryan is quick to say that he's the best with the women. Ryan definitely disagrees and says he does better in that department. They also compete against each other in sports and push each other to get better.
The only noticeable differences, Brian says, is that Ryan is a little more outgoing and he's a little more quieter and Ryan is a little bit taller.
"He's talks more than I do," Brian said. "He's the more talkative one. I'm more goofy and funny. But I'm kind of shy around people too. He can walk up to anybody and just start talking to them."
But together they form the perfect package, which is why it would be very tough to see them go their separate ways in college.
"Our first option would be to be a package deal," Ryan said. "And if it doesn't happen, then we'd have to make a tough decision. I'm still hoping a school might offer both of us. I wouldn't know what I would do if I wasn't around him every day."
"We really do want to be a package deal," he said. "But if it was a last resort and we had to go our separate ways, then that's what we'll have to do. But we both agree that's not what we have in mind at this point."
At this point, Ryan, who threw for 1,662 yards and had 20 touchdowns overall, said KU, Kansas State, Missouri Iowa, Nebraska, Michigan State, Arizona State and Oklahoma State are teams showing him a lot of interest. It's the same list for Bryan, who pointed out that Arizona State and Missouri both came by the school this past week to visit with their coach.
While their future is definitely on their minds, a more pressing issue occupies it almost every day – beating Lawrence High and making it past the first round of the Kansas state playoffs.
"We definitely want to win a state championship," Ryan said. "In our school's history, we've never gotten out of the first round of the state playoffs. It's a good time to change that. I love Free State, and it's a great time to be here.
"We hope to build a tradition that someday will compete with Lawrence High's tradition. That first step is going out there and beating them and capturing our first state title."