BHS looks to close out right
Don't write the Baldwin High School Bulldogs off just yet. Despite another loss Friday at Louisburg, the Dawgs still have a chance to deliver something that hasn't happened for BHS football in a very long time a winning record.
Baldwin High stands at 4-4 after last week's 35-8 loss to Louisburg. A win over Spring Hill Thursday in the season finale would give the seniors and the rest of the team a big claim in bringing Baldwin back into the football world.
"We need to try and take the next step and get a winning record," said coach Mike Berg. "We're not going to play next week (when the playoffs start). It's a matter of pride. We can find out what we're made of. We can play like we know we can and get a big win."
But, it won't be easy. Spring Hill beat Paola 6-0 on Friday to send the district title race into a frenzy. Any of three teams can claim the district crown depending on Thursday's results. Louisburg and Paola, both 1-1 in district play, square off, while Baldwin (0-2) plays host to Spring Hill (2-0).
A victory by Baldwin and depending on the which team wins the other game and by how much will determine who advances. Spring Hill had been written off early in the season based on its loss to Wellsville a team Baldwin High beat easily but has since become strong. Early on five of Spring Hill's players were hurt and since their return, the Broncos haven't lost.
It presents a challenge for Berg's Bulldogs, especially the seniors, who have helped turned the once dormant program around. Now they have a chance to take it a step further and link their names with the group that brought winning football back to Baldwin.
"We're playing for something," he said. "Let's end the year on a positive note. We want to end the year with a winning record. We're going to get after it play with high intensity. We've got to play hard every play."
That's something BHS hasn't done the last three weeks during a three-game skid that has seen the Bulldogs go from 4-1 to 4-4. Friday's loss to Louisburg was no exception.
BHS played the Wildcats tough in the first quarter, holding them to a three-and-out in their first series. But, in between that, Baldwin High's offense couldn't get anything going. On Louisburg's second series, the Wildcats drove for their first touchdown. Then, just before the quarter ended, BHS fumbled.
Louisburg turned that into a touchdown and followed it with another two scores to take a 28-0 halftime lead. BHS never recovered. Louisburg added another touchdown in the third quarter for a 35-0 lead before BHS finally got untracked.
"They were in our backfield all night," said Berg. "They were little, but all over us. We got dominated on the offensive and defensive lines."
A pair of BHS fumbles and the offense's inability to move the ball on the ground or through the air cost the Bulldogs. The defense gave up the scores, but played better than in weeks past, giving up 306 yards in total offense easily the fewest in weeks. But, too many times Louisburg was given a short field to score with.
The offensive struggles were a combination of factors not enough blocking, too many dropped passes and too many fumbles.
"Our kids just didn't get off the ball," he said. "They just totally stuffed our run. After we went trips, it opened up."
BHS staged an offensive comeback in the second half and scored its lone touchdown with 6:37 left in the game on a screen pass from senior quarterback Heath Knight to freshman running back Micah Mason. Mason scampered 19 yards for the score. Knight then hit fellow senior Evan Durnal with a conversion pass for BHS's eight points on the night.
Spring Hill has the ability to stuff the run, too, as evident by the 6-0 score over Paola, a team that ran for 359 yards against BHS the week before.
"They're good," Berg said of the Broncos. "Defensively, they're very good. If they can shut Paola and Louisburg down, we can't line up in Pro and run at them. They put eight guys up within two yards of the line. They were bringing everyone. We're going to try to do both run and pass."
On offense the Broncos don't do anything fancy and are patient. That's how they made one play stand up for the win against Paola.
"They have a decent tailback and fullback and a good quarterback," he said. "They don't make mistakes. The offense is very basic. They scored on a dive play against Paola. A linebacker missed a tackle and the kid was gone.
"We're going with a six-man front. Count on it," said Berg. "We're putting our linebackers on the line and are going to contain the quarterback. We've got to do something. The 4-4 won't work."
There's another thing Berg vows will happen.
"We're going to go out and play hard," he said. "The Louisburg coach said that was the hardest they'd been hit all year long. We're going to do that again."
Game time is at 7 p.m. Thursday at Liston Stadium. It will also be Senior Recognition Night.