Baldwin High football shines at tournament
Eudora In a test of endurance as much as anything else, the Baldwin High School varsity entry in Saturday's 7-on-7 football tournament in Eudora finished in the top four of the 16-team field.
After reaching the semifinals by drilling Spring Hill 40-0, Baldwin High ran out of gas and fell to Louisburg 14-0. Louisburg went on to win the tournament by beating Gardner 28-0.
It was only the second year BHS has participated in the 7-on-7 competition and the improvement from a year ago was evident. Last year the Baldwin squad only won one game all season. This year the varsity squad won five games in the regular season and four in the tournament. Last year there wasn't a tourney.
"I thought we did very well," said coach Mike Berg. "We did a lot better than last year. Out of 16 teams, we finished in the top four. We played well on both sides of the ball, too."
To reach the playoff round in the tourney, BHS had to qualify during a three-game pool play format. The team did so by beating Olathe Christian 38-14 and DeSoto's Mill Valley 28-26, and tying Gardner 28-28.
The league is all-pass. The offense has four downs to get a first down or a touchdown on about a 50-yard field. The quarterback is allowed four seconds to get a pass off to one of six receivers. If a first down or touchdown isn't made, the ball reverts to the other team. Also, the defense can return an interception for a score, but it only counts two points.
The league gives an opportunity for high school teams to work on their passing games and their pass defense. Berg said it was worth every minute.
"It gets your receivers running good routes and gives them confidence," he said. "For the quarterback, it gives repetitions. It also gives the receivers and quarterbacks a great opportunity to throw and catch in a game-like atmosphere.
"Defensively we were working on our zone and man-to-man coverages," said Berg. "At the beginning of the season, we were slow to react. Now we're playing smarter."
The league was started eight years ago by the coach at Gardner and has grown each season. Last year, BHS played at Gardner. This year there were so many teams that it had to be split into two divisions and the Baldwin squad made the trek to Eudora every Saturday morning.
There were two teams each from Baldwin, Eudora, DeSoto and Gardner. Single teams came from McClouth, Kansas City Ward, Basehor-Linwood, Spring Hill, Bonner Springs, Louisburg, Paola and Orrick, Mo. (former BHS offensive coordinator Pat Richard's team). When Saturday's tournament rolled around and combined the field, the finalist were all league schools Baldwin, Eudora, Louisburg and Spring Hill.
"It shows how strong the Frontier League is," he said.
Berg said the tournament is also another way to build football programs.
"It really is," he said. "Football is really a year-round building process. I want the kids to play other sports, but in the off-season I want them lifting weights and doing things like this.
"Right now in our off-season weight program we've had up to 65 kids come out. Consistently we have 45-50 every day," said Berg. "I'm glad to see them in there working hard and getting stronger."
While the 7-on-7 was for the "skill" people, this weekend's action moves to the big guys on the line. The first-ever "O-Line Olympics" will be in Lansing. It will have teams of five linemen who will participate in various competitions, including weight lifting. Berg is looking forward to it, too.
"This is the first year for it and I think it's great to give the big guys something to compete in," he said.
Also upcoming are football camps to be run by Berg. See related story in Sports Line.