Bulldogs ready to roll Friday
After nearly three weeks of practice, the Baldwin High School football team is ready to display its new offense and defense against Frontier League rival Gardner Friday night.
The Bulldogs' opening game will take place at 7 p.m. Friday at Gardner-Edgerton High School. BHS senior John Brown said the team is psyched and ready for the season to begin.
"We're really excited, because we've started to practice real crisp," Brown said. "We're starting to get impatient. We're ready to go."
The Bulldogs once again open the season with the Trailblazers. Last year, Baldwin won 34-7, handing Gardner its only league loss of the season.
"I hope we come out and pop them in the mouth, just like last year," Brown said. "But we have a new offense and a new defense this year. Hopefully, we'll get things off to the right start."
The new schemes are designed to help with the Bulldogs' strengths, especially on offense.
"Coach has decided to put in an offense that will suit what we have," Senior Jeremy Wright said. "It's been working, so we are going to throw a lot of stuff at Gardner and see how it goes."
The Bulldogs were hoping to work on the new schemes at last Friday's scrimmage, but rain canceled the annual preseason opener.
BHS coach Mike Berg said the rainfall made the fields too wet to play on and would have damaged the fields for the season.
"Our fields can't handle it and we would have bad fields all year," Berg said. "I want to try and save our fields a little bit, and save the kids. They are more prone to injury in conditions like that."
Wright agreed, saying the lack of scrimmage has positives and negative effects.
"At one point, yes, because we don't get that experience," Wright said of not playing the scrimmage. "But at the same time, we all stayed healthy, which is a good thing."
Since there was no scrimmage, the Bulldogs haven't had many chances to practice at full speed and with full contact. Berg doesn't believe the lack of hitting will hurt the team.
"I don't think it's going to hurt us. I just think the kids are ready to start going full speed," Berg said. "In practice, we don't go full speed a lot to keep kids healthy."
Wright said the team is ready to start hitting and playing full speed.
"We are a little antsy because we haven't had a live scrimmage yet," Brown said. "But none the less, we're still excited about Friday."
Brown and Wright both said everybody is working very hard at practice.
"It's probably the most competitive practices since I've been here," Wright said. "Guys are always fighting for spots. Practices have been great."
Berg said that the practices, along with the games, will help the team achieve its goals for the season.
"I think our first goal is to defend the league title, then to be district champs and get farther in the playoffs," Berg said. "We want to go to the state championship. That's our goal."
But Berg knows the Bulldogs will have to remain healthy and hope for some good fortune.
"At the end of last season, we had some injuries that were kind of devastating to the team," Berg said. "I think staying together as a team and keep injuries from happening, and a little bit of luck. We have to improve every game. I think that's the key."
The Bulldogs return many starters at the offensive skill positions. But the one void from last year's team is the offensive line. However, Berg is not concerned.
"That was our main concern coming in, but the lineman we have now are doing an awesome job," Berg said. "We have a lot of good depth there. It's not like we drop off there. We've got some size and some quickness, but we will miss those lineman."
One question heading into the season is who will be the quarterback, because both Wright and junior Blake Wieden saw ample time last season.
"Both of them look great and both of them are better at different things," Berg said. "They both might play some this year, because of what they can offer to us."
The Bulldogs hit the field Friday night at Gardner. Their home opener is Sept. 9 at Liston Stadium, which is also the night for the Bulldog Bash.