BHS night set again for Liston
Experience with a good dose of quality leadership has Baldwin High School head football coach Mike Berg looking forward to this season.
Last year's 5-4 record was the first winning mark turned in by a Bulldog football team in more than a decade. That was a big step. But, what Berg has returning from that team has him even more excited than he was heading into last year.
"We return eight starters on offense and eight starters on defense," said Berg, who is in his fourth year at the Bulldog helm. "It's a senior-driven team with a good work ethic and they play hard. We have high-intensity practices, they're running from drill to drill and getting the job done.
"They've been in the system and they know what's expected of them," he said. "We're playing with confidence and that's good to see."
There are 18 seniors out this year on a team that totaled 92 players when practices started Aug. 13. Most of those seniors have been working in the off-season for all four years to improve themselves with weight lifting, conditioning and football camps. They've served as the type of role models that Berg wants for his program.
"I'm very excited," said Berg. "I'm very happy for this group of seniors because of the opportunity they've given themselves because of what they did in the off season. They've put themselves in a position to be successful."
The majority of the 16 returning starters are seniors, but there's a touch of youth sprinkled in, too. Nowhere is that more evident than in the offensive backfield.
"There is going to be a new face at quarterback in Tyler Inzer," said Berg. "Inzer brings some speed to an experienced backfield."
Inzer, a 5-foot-8, 185-pound senior, is the fastest returning 100-meter dash man in the Frontier League. He's started at wide receiver the last two years and attended numerous football camps this summer to hone his quarterbacking skills. He's joined in the backfield by the Mason brothers, who both started last year. Caleb Mason is a 5-10, 220-pound senior, who will man the fullback spot and Micah Mason (5-11, 200) will be the tailback. M. Mason started at tailback for much of last season while just a freshman.
Other returning starters, whether part-time or full-time, on offense are: Mark Gastelum (6-0, 240), senior guard; Chapin Deel (6-3, 210), senior tackle; Dan Hamilton (6-0, 210), junior guard; Witt Hinton (6-3, 210) senior tackle; Adam Halford (5-9, 180), senior center; Andrew Hannon (6-0, 155) sophomore wide receiver; Brett Myrick (5-11, 200) senior tight end; and Brian Lauridsen (6-2, 210) junior tight end. Berg also is expecting junior Daniel Musgrave (5-11, 200) to figure in the mix on the line.
This year's Bulldog offense will feature a double tight end package at times, with multiple sets in the backfield utilizing two backs.
"We're going to emphasis more of a run-oriented offense," said Berg. "We're going to eliminate some mistakes we made in the past and look for some ball control."
As for the eight returning starters on defense, they are: Hinton and Myrick at defensive end; C. Mason, Halford and Lauridsen at linebacker; Hamilton at defensive tackle; John Bones (5-10, 175), senior cornerback; Adam Turk (5-5, 160), senior, and Kyle Flory (5-8, 165), sophomore, at linebacker.
Others expected to contribute heavily on defense are: Inzer and Tyler Trowbridge (6-0, 185), senior, at safety; Hannon and Yancy Richards (6-0, 185), senior, at cornerback; Gastelum at tackle; M. Mason at linebacker; Seth Good (6-1, 210) senior, defensive tackle; Michael Hubbel (5-10, 160), senior cornerback; and defensive ends Cal Heinrich (6-1, 185), junior, Ryne Jackson (6-0, 185), junior, and Aaron Lewis (5-8, 150), senior.
"We'll run the 4-4 on defense again," he said, "but with multiple fronts at times. We're going to be in some 5-3 and 6-2 looks, as well. Our defensive ends are going to be a big key to our defense. We feel like that's where our strength is this year."
Another strength the Bulldogs will have is on special teams. Inzer returned three kick offs for touchdowns last year and Turk returns as the punt return specialist. The punting will be handled by Richards or C. Mason, with Jackson as the long snapper.
But possibly the biggest specialty weapon will be newcomer Hans Broers. The 5-8, 140-pound senior came out for football for the first time this year. Broers has played soccer since he was old enough to walk and has shown great potential as a kicker. Holding for those kicks for the third year in a row will be Myrick.
Berg is optimistic about the season ahead, but knows the Frontier League will again be tough.
"It's very tough from top to bottom with Paola, Eudora, Spring Hill, Gardner, Louisburg, Prairie View and Wellsville this year," he said. "It's a tough league. It's pretty balanced in the middle. A couple of teams will rise to the top."
BHS opens the season on the road at Prairie View Aug. 31.
Aug. 31 at Prairie View
Sept. 7 Wellsville
Sept. 14 at Gardner
Sept. 21 Osawatomie
Sept. 28 at Anderson County
Oct. 5 Eudora
Oct. 12 Paola
Oct. 19 Louisburg
Oct. 25 at Spring Hill