Archive for Thursday, September 14, 2006

Column: Loss of seniors affecting teams

September 14, 2006

The Baldwin High School football team is 0-2, the BHS boys' cross country team has lost two meets and the second-year soccer program at BHS is undefeated.

No, it's not the apocalypse, I promise.

The fall sports season has started off very strange, but I will admit that I did see most of this coming.

Let's start off with the winless BHS football team. Yes, I said winless. The Bulldogs have lost two games in convincing fashion. They lost at Gardner and at Paola.

The Trailblazers are an improved Class 5A school with a new coach and new attitude. They are the largest school in the Frontier League and they will be a force this fall.

The Panthers are always talented in football and have even dropped to Class 4A this fall. They play a physical game, which presented problems for Baldwin.

The Bulldogs are a fairly young team that lost loads of talent from last year. They lost their quarterback, wide receiver and three running backs, not to mention those players all started on defense as well.

It's not quite a rebuilding year for Baldwin, but it's more about finding an identity. The Bulldogs also lost a lot of leadership and could use some this fall. Many players are seeing varsity action for the first time against two big, tough teams.

I look for the Bulldogs to get off the losing streak at home Friday against Prairie View. Once they find that attitude they are used to having and gain some confidence, they will be ready for some postseason play.

Another BHS team that is used to winning but has lost a lot of talent, is the BHS boys' cross country team. The Bulldogs were beaten by De Soto at their first two meets, which came as a surprise to many people, including myself.

I knew the Bulldogs lost three good seniors and might struggle to find some depth on varsity, but I had no idea De Soto was that talented. The Wildcats are a good team and should give the Bulldogs a challenge at league, regional and state.

I don't want to say the eight-year state championship streak is in jeopardy this year, but this is the first time in years that Baldwin will need a gutty performance at the state meet to win.

I think the Bulldogs will improve as the season progresses and a quality fifth runner will appear. Plus, I know coach Mike Spielman will do everything he can to keep the streak alive.

The other BHS cross country team is looking very solid right now. The girls' team is running over opponents and should continue to throughout the season, barring any injuries or sicknesses.

Junior Heather Garcia is coming off a great track season last spring and is healthy this fall. If she can avoid playing dodge ball or becoming sick, she will have a good chance to claim an individual title at state. I know Eudora rival Brittney Graff will have something to say about that, so those two should be fun to watch.

The girls' team lost their sixth runner from the state championship team a year ago. They are reloaded for this fall and should claim their fourth title in the last five years.

The BHS volleyball team is struggling again this year, but it is improving. I have seen improvement from this team during the season. I think first-year coach Kelly Brown has the Bulldogs headed in the right direction; it just might take a year or two to see signs of a winning team.

The BHS girls' tennis team has been to a few meets, but has also been rained out at its last one. The Bulldogs return several players with varsity experience. They should continue to improve throughout the fall and might make some noise at the regional meet in October.

The last BHS team, but certainly not the least, is the soccer squad. The Bulldogs are currently 4-0 and are looking very good.

I have been to two matches and it's hard to believe this program is only in its second year. The Bulldogs have scored 16 goals and only allowed three in their first four games.

BHS plays very well as a team and is led by junior Dustin Schiller and Brazilian exchange student Fernando Chuery. Those two can control a soccer ball with flair, and neither are selfish players.

Baldwin will be tested, though, with eight of its next nine games on the road. Of course, BHS home games have been played in Lawrence, which is not exactly a home game.

If the Bulldogs can stay healthy, they will have a chance to make a run in the postseason. The have the talent and the quality of coaches to be a great team.

Well, that's the fall season report after three weeks of contests. It's been a wild few weeks, but the season is still early for all teams.

Things will begin returning to normalcy as the season progresses, so don't worry, it's not the end of the world. It just might be a changing of the guard with BHS fall sports.

Whatever it is, I am going to keep cheering the Bulldogs on in every sport, especially at the Bash on Friday.

Go Bulldogs.

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