Shutout ends Bulldogs’ football season at 4-5
EUDORA -- A season that was surrounded by controversy and tough losses came to an end here last Thursday.
Cold, rainy conditions made it hard for the Baldwin High School football team to move the ball offensively, as the Bulldogs (4-5) lost 14-0 to the Cardinals (9-0).
"After looking at the film, we did a lot of great things last night," coach Mike Berg said Friday. "The only thing that we didn't do was score. Our special teams and defense were solid. They played well enough for us to win. We just didn't move the ball."
The Bulldogs came into the season with high hopes, despite losing a large, talented senior class. After the first two games, allegations of prescription drug usage clouded the team.
Then several players quit the team, while a couple of others were suspended. After all of that, the Bulldogs finished the season with a 4-3 season.
"Things got bad at the beginning of the year," Berg said. "We could have pouted the rest of the year and been 0-9. They made sure there were a lot of memories and a lot of positives."
Senior Brandon Reed said the team fought hard to battle through the season.
"There were so many things thrown at us this year, but we just rebounded back from all of them," Reed said. "We had to rebuild as we always do, but it was during the season."
After the final game against Eudora, Berg felt sorry for the seniors, because they have battled through a tough season.
"I feel for the seniors," Berg said. "They have been through a lot this year. You could tell that they had a lot invested. I hated to see them hurt as bad as they did. I'll never forget them because of the character they showed."
Reed said his emotions caught up to him after the game.
"As an underclassmen, I remember seeing the seniors crying, but I didn't know how bad it hurt until I was a senior realizing that might have been the last game I play forever," Reed said.
Thursday's game was a big game for both teams. Baldwin needed a win and some help to continue playing, while Eudora was searching for a perfect season.
Last year the Bulldogs ruined the Cardinals' undefeated season, so both teams knew the magnitude of the contest last week.
"Our kids were really ready to play," Berg said. "They had the confidence I knew they would, because it was such a big game. It was a do-or-die game."
Both teams stopped their opponent on the first possessions of the game, but a bad punt by Baldwin gave Eudora great field position.
Eudora's quarterback Kent Swanson stepped back to handoff to his running back, but the football slipped out of his hands and the ball became airborne. Then Eudora's Loni Ogden grabbed the ball before any Baldwin player could get to it, and ran 26 yards for a touchdown.
"We had a chance to get the ball, but it bounced right into this guy's hands," Berg said.
Eudora converted the two-point conversion to take an 8-0 lead. Neither team's offense moved the ball much after that, as the rain fell harder and the wind blew stronger.
"We moved the ball at times, but it wasn't consistent," Berg said. "You have to be consistent against the good teams to have a chance. We were sporadic."
Baldwin struggled in the third quarter as the Cardinals controlled the ball and field position.
"I think it affected us, especially in the third quarter because the wind was in our face," Berg said. "We only got to run seven plays, but we knew they would control the clock if they got the lead."
Eudora once again took over late in the third quarter after a bad Baldwin punt. On a fourth-and-12 play from the Baldwin 26-yard line, Eudora threw a touchdown pass to take a 14-0 lead.
"Our defense came out and played pretty well," Reed said. "They played well all throughout districts. We had two big plays that we gave up and they scored on both plays. Other than those plays, it would have been 0-0."
In the fourth quarter, Baldwin began to pass much more, but wasn't having success with the wet, cold conditions.
"It was really frustrating, because some of our plays were working and then nothing was working," Berg said. "We would find a play that would work, run it again and it wouldn't work again."
Berg even said the weather limited the Bulldogs' rushing attack.
"The weather took our outside running game away," Berg said. "We tried taking it outside on them, but we would slip and fall or not be able to cut very well. Then our passing game was nonexistent."
After the game, Berg was proud of how his defense played against the Cardinals.
"We knew that our defense would do a good job against them, because our defense has gotten better every week," Berg said. "We've seen some of the best teams in the area and done good things against them."
The Bulldogs finished the year with a record of 4-5 and 1-2 in district play. The Eudora game was the final contest for nine BHS seniors.