Bulldogs will remember the positives
Thursday's 46-43 overtime loss to Spring Hill was an agonizing end to Baldwin High School's football season. But, coach Mike Berg will remember the positives from this year and the group of seniors that played a huge role in turning the once-dormant football program around.
"It's not the way we wanted to end the season," Berg said. "We wanted to end the season with a win. But, we did some things this year that hadn't happened for a long time. We beat two teams, Prairie View and Louisburg, that we haven't beaten for years.
"We have taken the next step we are competing with the top teams in the Frontier League," said Berg, also citing close losses to Gardner and Paola. "This senior class has taken us to the next step with their determination and dedication."
When this year's BHS seniors were freshmen, the Bulldog program had endured two winless seasons prior to their arrival. The varsity broke that skein that year, Berg's first as head coach, but went 1-8. The next year, the team improved to 4-5 and the last two years have had winning records at 5-4. Berg credits the seniors for most of that.
"They put four years of commitment in and there was a bunch of them," he said. "The majority of these seniors were there all four years. They worked in the off season, played seven-on-seven in the summer and lifted weights year around. They were thinking about football all year long.
"The team really got along together and played for each other. They really liked playing together and it showed," said Berg. "there was a lot of pain after that game Thursday and I felt it, too. But, we're going to remember the good things. There are so many things I'm going to remember about this senior class all of which they did together. There were sweat and tears together all year long and it hurts when it comes to an end like that."
BHS was flying fast Thursday, racing to a 21-0 first-quarter lead and then went up 28-0 with four minutes left in the half. Senior quarterback Tyler Inzer scored the first touchdown on a nine-yard run. Then Inzer hit sophomore Andrew Hannon with a 25-yard scoring pass. Senior fullback Caleb Mason scored the third touchdown on a 51-yard gallop. Inzer closed it out with a four-yard run. Senior kicker Hans Broers added all four conversion kicks for the 28-0 bulge.
But, it was all down hill from there. With the help of a home-town clock operator, Spring Hill scored its first-half touchdown with no time remaining. The Broncos came out in the second half and promptly scored again to pull within 28-12.
BHS wasn't done yet, though. Mason capped an eight-play, 63-yard drive with a one-yard plunge to put the Bulldogs up 34-12. Spring Hill duplicated that drive and pulled to within 34-20 with 46 seconds left in the third quarter. Then disaster struck for BHS. On the first play of the ensuing possession, the Bulldogs fumbled. The Broncos recovered and quickly drove the 22 yards to bring the score to 34-27, just into the fourth quarter.
Again, the Bulldogs weren't done. They drove 71 yards in just five plays, with most of it covered by a 52-yard run by sophomore tailback Micah Mason, who had set out much of the first half with an injury. C. Mason again topped off the drive, this time with a four-yard run for the score. BHS was up 40-27.
From there, Spring Hill scored twice to knot the game at 40. The Broncos utilized the pass on their next drive and converted two fourth-down situations to pull within 40-34. Then disaster struck again for BHS. Spring Hill was successful with its onside kick attempt and took over at the 48-yard line. Nine plays later, the Broncos scored the tying touchdown, but missed the extra point to leave the score at 40-40 with 1:01 left.
That's the way it ended after BHS was intercepted with 13 seconds left and Spring Hill couldn't score. The Broncos won the overtime coin toss and chose to play defense. They stuffed BHS for minus one yard in three plays. Broers then booted a 28-yard field goal, his first of the season, to put BHS up briefly at 43-40.
After two running plays, Spring Hill went back to its most successful play of the night a pass to 6-foot-3 Clint Whitson for the winning touchdown.
It ended the season for BHS with a 5-4 mark, the second year in a row the Bulldogs have put winning seasons together. It could have easily been 7-2 or 8-1, but it didn't happen.
"The things that came back to haunt us this year were turnovers and penalties," said Berg. "The kids worked hard, though, and have plenty to be proud of. This program is headed in the right direction thanks to them."
BHS's option offense turned in a productive year. M. Mason ended with an even 1,300 yards on 162 carries for an average of 8.02 yards per carry and 11 touchdowns. Inzer had 788 yards on 94 carries for an 8.3-yard average and 11 touchdowns. C. Mason had 351 yards on 51 carries for a 6.8-yard average and eight touchdowns. After a slow start, Inzer wound up completing 33 of 65 passes for 662 yards.
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