Rushing attack rolls over Panthers
Mike Berg slightly tweaked his offense after his Bulldogs lost their opening game to Gardner-Edgerton and it worked Friday night.
It worked so well the Baldwin High School football team rushed for 378 yards against reigning Class 4A state runner-up Paola. Baldwin (1-1) controlled the game from the start as it rolled over the Panthers 20-7 in Liston Stadium.
"I am most definitely happy to win tonight," BHS coach Berg said Friday. "To beat a team that got state runner up last year is very special."
The Bulldogs, who began their season with a 14-7 loss at home versus the Trailblazers, were thrilled to win their first game of the 2007 campaign. The excitement could be felt all over the BHS sideline Friday night as the Bulldogs clinched their 20-7 victory.
"It was a great feeling," junior Sam Beecher said. "It's been almost a year since we've won a football game. It's amazing. There is nothing else like it."
In the season opener, the Bulldogs debuted their single wing offense. The new offensive scheme had some success against Gardner, but struggled to give the Bulldogs any outside rushing game or passing attack.
During practice last week, the Bulldogs tweaked their offense for the game against the Panthers. They ran some I-formation and pro sets, while setting up in the single wing once in a while. Berg was happy with both sets.
"I think it's a good mix," Berg said. "We don't want to stay in that single wing all of the time because, as you saw against Gardner, they can just pack the line of scrimmage. We want to be able to spread some people out."
Senior Zach Durr agreed with his coach, saying the adjusted offense helped the Bulldogs run inside and outside of the tackles.
"Last week the single wing wasn't too effective, so we decided to spread it out a little bit more," Durr said. "We went to the pro set and that spread it out a lot more. I think it confused them and worked really well."
Beecher led the way with 132 yards on the ground. Senior Jared Hall rushed for 84 yards, Durr ran for 71 and senior Gabe Mason also produced 70 yards for the Bulldogs. Durr and Mason accounted for all three BHS scores.
Durr opened up the game with a 59-yard touchdown run on his first carry of the game. It was the Bulldogs' second possession and it gave BHS a 7-0 lead.
"No one really touched me," Durr said. "There was a huge hole so I just ran through it. Then I was gone."
On their next possession, the Bulldogs scored again. This time Mason capped off an eight-play, 79-yard drive with a 15-yard run. Baldwin led 14-0 early in the second quarter.
Baldwin nearly scored before halftime, but was unsuccessful near the Panthers' end zone. Berg said BHS should have held a larger lead than 14-0 at the break.
"I think it probably should have been a little bit more," Berg said. "We had that penalty on the pass on the first possession. Mistakes like that against good teams usually come back to haunt you. Luckily, tonight it didn't."
Despite the struggles right before halftime, BHS came out and opened up its lead on its first possession of the third quarter. Beecher nearly intercepted a Paola pass, before picking the very next pass off and returning it from midfield to the Paola 24-yard line.
Seven plays later, Mason rumbled in for his second touchdown of the night on a 6-yard run. Baldwin led 20-0 after the score.
Beecher credited the offensive line for the Bulldogs' ability to rush Friday.
"It started all last year," Beecher said. "We all worked really hard this summer. When they talk about offensive lines, they talk about how they have to work together. They've all been working together for a long time, so they just keep getting better and better."
The Panthers added their only score early in the fourth quarter. They wouldn't get any closer as BHS held on to win the game 20-7.
"It was a nice win," Durr said. "I thought we played really well. We came out with a lot of intensity and focus. We just tried to do what we had been working on all week."
After the game, Berg said his team did improve from the first game, but it also took a step back in some areas. He said they just need to keep improving each week.
"In some areas we took a step back, but in some areas we took a step forward," Berg said. "We will look at the film and fix our mistakes. We just have to keep getting better every week."
Baldwin has enjoyed two home games, but now it must play its first road game of the season.
"It's been really nice," Durr said of the home games. "There have been a ton of people out here supporting us, which has really helped. Hopefully, we can get a lot of people at the road games."
This week the Bulldogs travel to La Cygne to play Prairie View at 7 p.m. Friday.