BHS blasts past Dogs in opener
As 40-6 victories go, Baldwin High School's football-season opening win Friday over Anderson County by that count wasn't overly pretty. But, it's hard to complain about a win, no matter what.
"I thought we made some mistakes that need to be fixed this week, but overall we executed very well," said coach Mike Berg. "When we didn't make mistakes, we had people making blocks where they should have.
"When we did make mistakes, it was jumping offsides, clipping people when the running back is already gone for a touchdown, fumbling the ball and not being in the right place at certain times, especially on defense," Berg said. "But for the most part, we had our players in the right position to make plays. I thought we did a good job of that."
BHS's Bulldogs looked like world beaters on the opening two possessions of the game. Baldwin scored on its first play from scrimmage, a 42-yard run by senior wingback Andrew Hannon for a 6-0 lead.
On the ensuing kickoff, Anderson County fumbled and sophomore John Brown recovered. This time it took four plays, but BHS went up 14-0 just three minutes into the game on a 12-yard touchdown run by senior fullback Kyle Flory and a two-point conversion run by senior quarterback Jason Kesinger.
The rout looked like it was on, but it wasn't ... at least not quite yet. The BHS defense let down on the next series and Anderson County's Jeff Cover took advantage for an 80-yard touchdown run to pull those Bulldogs within 14-6. That early action caught Berg's attention.
"That's just poor execution on our part," he said of the 80-yard run. "We had someone there to make the tackle and they didn't. Then the linebacker ran right past the play and the free safety ran past it, too. But, there were some really good things. The opening drive Andy took it in on the sweep. The first two series were great. But we kind of took a deep breath there and said it was over.
"Our intensity wasn't there," said Berg. "As coaches we saw that in the warmups. It wasn't nervousness, it was looking ahead. We can't do that. We need to get better every week and we have to do that no matter who we are playing."
First games are normally a time when mistakes happen. They certainly did for BHS. For the game, BHS was flagged nine times for 85 yards in penalties, three of which cost the Bulldogs touchdowns, and they lost three of four fumbles. However, Anderson County's Bulldogs helped with plenty of mistakes, too, most notably 10 fumbles which Baldwin High managed to recover five of.
BHS rebounded after Anderson County's lone score to put two more touchdowns on the board before halftime. Flory got his second score of the night on an 8-yard run just into the second quarter. Standout senior Micah Mason got his lone touchdown that counted just before halftime on a 13-yard scamper.
Despite those two scores, Berg and the rest of the coaching staff weren't pleased at halftime and let the Bulldogs know.
"We got their attention," he said. "We told them they were going through the motions and not playing with any heart. We said you're waiting for your teammate to make a great play when it should be you making the big play."
BHS answered the call with two more third-quarter touchdowns to put the game away. Kesinger got the first on a one-yard quarterback sneak that capped a five-play, 38-yard drive to open the second half. Six minutes later, Kesinger found senior tight end B.T. Turk open for a 12-yard scoring pass.
"We did come back with a good third quarter," said Berg. "We've got to keep the momentum on our side."
That closed out the scoring and opened the way for backups to take over the action. Mason ended the night with 107 yards rushing on 16 carries, with 83 of those yards coming in the first half. He also had a 62-yard touchdown run called back because of a clip. Kesinger ended the night completing five of six passes for 62 yards and the touchdown.
The victory opened the season for BHS to the tune of a 1-0 record. All-in-all, Berg was pleased.
"Every game is a learning experience," he said. "We've got to learn to keep a hold of the ball and not make so many penalties."
That will be especially true against the next opponent, Paola, which also stands at 1-0 after a 28-0 win over Basehor-Linwood in its opener. Paola is big, averaging 270 pounds across the offensive line, and the Bulldogs will have their hands full when they play host to the Panthers for a 7 p.m. game Friday at Liston Stadium.
"They return everybody and I mean everybody. They have 20 seniors," said Berg. "They are big and physical. They want to play smash-mouth football with a little option. They show a little bit of everything formation wise.
"I think it's going to be a very exciting ballgame with teams that return a lot of players," he said. "It's going to be who ever makes the least mistakes that will win. It's going to be power against speed."