Bulldogs dominate Santa Fe Trail
It's been a big year for Baldwin High School football and it will continue as the Bulldogs shoot for their first district title tonight against Eudora.
Regardless of the outcome, BHS has qualified for the first round of Class 4A state playoffs Tuesday for the third straight year. But, there's been another first for the BHS program under seven-year head coach Mike Berg.
"We won the league," Berg said of the first Frontier League title since 1981. "We are the upper division champions."
BHS earned that with a 4-1 record. Paola lost to Gardner to drop to 3-2 to break the tie. While the league title is a new and good taste for the Bulldogs, they'd like to add the district title tonight at Eudora. Game time is 7 p.m.
"You couldn't ask for a bigger game," said Berg. "We're shooting for the home-field advantage in the playoffs. We haven't had that. Last year, we were able to win on the road in the first round, but the year before that, we didn't.
"We knew when we scheduled this as the last game, it would be a showdown for the district title," he said. "That's what everyone had in the back of their minds."
BHS toyed with Santa Fe Trail Friday night in a 38-12 win. The Bulldogs were up 26-6 at halftime, extended that to 32-6 in the third frame and settled for the final 38-12 margin. They did it without starting quarterback Jeremy Wright, fullback Luke Halford and wide receiver Aaron Hannon, who were all injured. They also lost starter Braxton Nottingham to a knee injury during the game.
"I thought our team under some adverse conditions just played awesome," said Berg. "We didn't have some kids that had been in starting spots. We didn't miss a beat.
"I knew we had some quality kids in backup roles and they proved that Friday night," he said.
Klay Garrison, a 5-foot-10, 185-pound junior tailback led the way. Garrison, who had been sharing tailback duties with senior Austin Inzer, had 197 yards on 23 carries and score four touchdowns. He kick started the BHS effort with the first two scores of the game on runs of nine and six yards.
Josiah Mason, a 5-9, 160-pound junior, got the third score on a four-yard run just into the third quarter. Then, Inzer hauled in a 68-yard scoring pass from Blake Weiden, a 5-11, 160-pound sophomore who was starting his first varsity game. Weiden ended up five for eight for 137 yards.
"Yes, he did threw the ball very well," Berg said. "He started out five of six passing and just ran our offense flawlessly. He's a good athlete and has made himself a good quarterback. We didn't have to change our offense because he knows it. It was awesome."
Garrison score his other two touchdowns on an eight-yard run in the third quarter and closed it out with a nine-yard run in the final frame.
"It was a night to remember for Klay," said Berg. "He's well deserving of the area player of the week honor. Klay took the duties on to get all the carries and did an awesome job."
But, now it's onto the Eudora game and the playoffs. BHS takes a 7-1 record into tonight's game, while the Cardinals are 6-2. They're losses were to De Soto and Osawatomie. Both teams beat all four common opponents -- Prairie View, Santa Fe Trail, Spring Hill and Wellsville.
"We know they are a good team," said Berg. "We had the home game last year, but they were district champion so we had to go up there and play them in the first round of the playoffs. It's been that way every year. We've had to go up there and play them in the first round.
"They are big up front on the offensive line," he said. "They do a real good job running misdirection. It's tough to defend."
Berg doesn't know how many of his starters, if any, will be able to return tonight.
"Right now, one them will be able to play," he said. "Jeremy is going to be able to play sparingly. But, it's still up in the air. We're in the playoffs. Do we play him or rest him up for Tuesday? It's still up in the air."
If the Bulldogs win tonight, they would play host to a 7 p.m. game Tuesday against the winner of the Louisburg-Osawatomie game. If they lose tonight, they would play at Anderson County Tuesday at 7 p.m.
"This is what it's all about," said Berg. "We start at week one and build from there. I think we're peaking at the right time."
Results of tonight's game will be on the Signal's Web site at www.baldwincity.com.