BHS hammers Gardner 34-7
As football season openers go, it just doesn't get much better than Baldwin High School's 34-7 shellacking of the Gardner Trailblazers Friday night in Liston Stadium.
"That was a big win," said coach Mike Berg. "The execution for a first game was unbelievable. I've never seen a high school team execute so well so early in the year.
"You look back at the film and you see 11 guys doing what they're supposed to do," he said. "That's why the first quarter looked so good."
Looked good, indeed. BHS scored on its first three possessions. It was a healthy dose of Austin Inzer, the blocking of the Bulldog line and a little surprise factor that made for a surprising 20-0 lead.
First, Inzer -- a 6-foot-1, 180-pound senior -- broke free on a 39-yard touchdown gallop on the opening series. After Gardner was forced to punt, Inzer did it again, this time just two plays into a 50-yard drive. This time he went a little further, 40 yards, for another scoring jaunt.
After forcing another Gardner punt, one that only traveled three yards, BHS was set up just 36 yards from paydirt. Again the ball went to Inzer. But this time, the tailback went on a sweep instead of up the middle. This time, too, he had something else up his sleeve. A one-time quarterback, Inzer stopped, planted his feet and heaved a 36-yard touchdown pass to a wide-open Aaron Hannon.
The Bulldogs were up 20-0 with 4:03 still left in the first quarter. The sequence of plays had been scripted, but Berg was as amazed as anyone that the execution worked as perfectly as it did.
"That's exactly how we envisioned it to happen," he said. "Did we think it would happen? We didn't know. Everything was based on game field from what they did last year.
"We've been preparing for them for eight months and it showed," said Berg. "We opened with the biggest school in the league and the kids responded. We came out intense."
Gardner did get untracked, though. The Trailblazers drove 88-yards in 11 plays to score a touchdown that narrowed the margin to 20-7, just into the second quarter. Gardner also got a little tougher on defense and was aided by BHS penalties to force the first Bulldog punt of the night. The Trailblazers put on a mini-drive, mostly through the air, but it stalled out and they failed on a fourth-and-six attempt.
BHS took over and promptly drove 65 yards in just six plays to score and regain the momentum going into halftime. Yes, it was Inzer again, but this time he scored on a 35-yard pass from junior quarterback Jeremy Wright. That left BHS up 26-7 at halftime, thanks in large part to an awesome array of talents shown by Inzer.
"He had a big night," said Berg. "That may be the game of his career. I hope not. I think he can do more. He's so appreciative of the blocking around him and what everyone else does. We've asked him to do a lot of things and he's never said no. he got to throw, catch and run Friday night."
But, it wasn't all Inzer, either. With 107 yards on six carries, he had the bulk of the Bulldogs' 258 rushing yards, but there were plenty of other key players. John Brown had 51 yards on just five carries. Klay Garrison had 36 yards on eight totes, Wright had 24 yards on two carries and Emery Baughan had a pair of nine-yard runs from the "quickie" play that was at the heart of BHS's offensive success.
"We just used our speed," said Berg. "The quickie backs, John Brown and Emery Baughan, really got the job done on the outside, which opened up the middle for Austin. Luke Halford blocking on the corner from his fullback position made a big difference, too.
"We wanted to do running back by committee and we sure did," he said. "The guys up front on the line played awesome. No missed assignments. We looked in mid-season form."
BHS put the game away for good in the third quarter. First, the Bulldogs stuffed Gardner's opening possession, forcing yet another punt. Then BHS put the game on ice with a nine-play, 74-yard drive. Everyone had a hand in on the drive and Halford capped it with a two-yard plunge for a 34-7 lead which is how the game ended.
But, the Bulldogs had to play defense. They held an always powerful Gardner team to just 121 yards on the ground, 147 through the air, for a total of 268. To put that in perspective, BHS countered with 258 yards on the ground, 121 through the air, for a total of 379 yards.
"We had to add so many people on defense, because we lost so many players from last year, but we didn't miss a beat," Berg said of the defensive performance. "We played with a lot of intensity. They had good schemes. It was a tough team to open with, but I thought we did extremely well."
There's no time to rest, though, after the big opening win. The Class 4A Bulldogs take on another 5A foe this week on the road at Paola. The Panthers dropped their opener 28-7 on the road at always tough Fort Scott. The Panthers were plagued by turnovers, with four fumbles and they had two punt snaps sail over the punter. Berg knows the Bulldogs will be in another battle at 7 p.m. Friday on the road.
"They are huge," he said of the Panthers. "They have one guy that's 280 pounds and another that's 250. They are very physical. They ran it 45 times against Fort Scott and threw it four times. They use multiple formations. We counted 11 different ones. Their favorite plays are the option and sweep, mixed with a little power and isolation.
"On defense, they've changed to a 4-4 for the first time and gone away from the traditional 4-3," said Berg. "I don't think they have the cornerbacks they've had in the past. They just made a lot of mistakes against Fort Scott. They've got a lot of new kids."