Panthers hand Bulldogs second straight loss
PAOLA For the second week in a row, Baldwin High got its Dawgs kicked around. This time the Paola Panthers provided the punishment with a 36-12 victory here Friday.
After trading touchdowns in the first quarter, Paola broke the game open with a kickoff return following BHS's score. It effectively took the wind out of the Bulldog sails and they found themselves trailing 29-6 at halftime.
For the second week in a row, the Baldwin High defense couldn't stop the run, yielding 359 yards to go along with the 380 yards allowed to Eudora the week before. The Bulldog offense couldn't answer, either, fumbling three times and again being plagued by costly penalties.
Based on the past two performances, head coach Mike Berg is going back to the drawing board.
"We've got to fight back," said Berg. "We've got a lot of things that are broken and need to be fixed. We've got to get back together as a team. We've got to get the confidence back in our team. We've got to rally around each other as a team.
"We can't have so many mental letdowns. That's what happened after the kickoff return for a touchdown," said Berg. "We can't make so many mistakes. We just dropped the ball."
The loss also came in the first district game of the season. If there was a glimmer of hope from Friday's action, it was that Louisburg also lost its district opener to Spring Hill 13-7 in overtime. BHS travels to Louisburg Friday and turns around the next week to play host to Spring Hill. The door is still open slightly for the Bulldogs.
"Yes, it is," he said. "It's any team that comes out with intensity who will win it. Louisburg didn't come out with intensity and Spring Hill did.
"We didn't play with intensity either," said Berg. "We've had a hard time getting intensity and keeping it. We have to take care of ourselves. We have to win one game at a time. At this time of year, strange things can happen."
The changes started taking place Monday when the Bulldogs showed up for practice. Ahead of watching game film, there was a team meeting. Berg said the meeting went well and the Bulldogs had a good practice.
It will take a good week of practice to prepare for Louisburg, which has had an up-and-down season, much like Baldwin. The Wildcats have been the only team to beat Eudora, but have had back-to-back losses to Gardner and Spring Hill. They're doing things a bit differently than they have in recent years.
"Louisburg is running out of the I, not the split-back," said Berg. "They have a big fullback, a fast tailback and will run the option until you stop it. They try to get it outside and beat you."
BHS hasn't stopped a running game yet, most notably the last two games where the Bulldogs gave up a total of 739 yards on the ground while getting beat by a total score of 77-33.
And there have been two styles to do it. Eudora used one back to gain 200 yards, while Paola had seven backs who ended the night with double-digit rushing totals.
"It was running back by committee," he said. "Their offense is hard to stop. They have a big line."
It will be more of the same against Louisburg. The defense will have to step it up and so will the offense. Berg said there would be changes made, but declined to elaborate. He does say it will take the entire team to make the turnaround.
"We've got to come together as a team," he said. "It's time for some of our upperclassmen to step it up. We can't wait for someone to make a big play. They all have to want to make a big play. We also have to pursue to the ball. We didn't do that last week."
BHS will also need to improve its running game, which was held to just 74 yards against Paola.
"You've got to be able to run the ball," said Berg. "Spring Hill controlled the ball against Louisburg and kept it out of their hands."
All three of those teams Baldwin, Louisburg and Spring Hill have 4-3 records. Paola stands alone at 6-1. In the all-important district race, Paola and Spring Hill are 1-0, while Louisburg and BHS are 0-1. Paola plays at Spring Hill Friday, so there will be changes.
"We just need to go out and take care of business," he said.
Game time at Louisburg is 7 p.m.