Archive for Thursday, October 30, 2008

Bulldogs show true toughness in victory

Off the Rim column

October 30, 2008

True character of a person or a team is often revealed during those moments when life is most challenging.

A year ago, Baldwin High School’s football team showed its strong character and determination by marching through the Class 4A playoffs and reaching the state semifinals. Its senior leadership was one major reason for its postseason success.

That group left its mark on BHS history and left a talented team of football players to follow in their footsteps. Following that is a chore for any team, but this year’s squad might have what it takes.

It’s hard to predict the future, especially when it comes to high school athletics. In fact, the Bulldogs might not even advance past tonight’s final district game at Eudora.

However, last Friday’s contest at Perry-Lecompton showed me enough to believe in the Bulldogs’ postseason hopes once again.

All was well in the first quarter and a half as Baldwin led 21-0. The Bulldogs came out on fire and controlled both sides of the ball in the early going. Most people probably knew Perry-Lecompton would rally, because its offense is too explosive to be shut out.

We just weren’t quite expecting a 28-point rally.

During the final six minutes of the second quarter, the Kaws scored three touchdowns to tie the game before halftime. A BHS fumble gave them great field position right before the half to score the final touchdown.

It was beginning to feel like the twilight zone. Baldwin’s momentum was gone. Baldwin’s lead was gone. It looked like Baldwin’s confidence was gone, too.

If that wasn’t enough, the Kaws took the opening kick off of the second half and returned it deep into BHS territory. They scored a few plays later to take a 28-21 lead.

At this point, no one was quite sure how the Bulldogs would react. I was a bit worried, because this was a new experience for this team.

Slowly but surely, the Bulldogs gained their momentum back. Andy Thurlow recovered a fumble and intercepted a pass to give BHS great field position twice. Thurlow’s defense sparked the comeback.

Then once again, it seemed like the Kaws might take it back, Sam Foye sacked the Kaws’ Shane Gimzo on a huge fourth quarter stop. More than eight minutes later, Baldwin would score its final touchdown.

BHS did leave the Kaws a few minutes to operate with. However, the Bulldogs’ defense stood its ground and stopped the Kaws. It was a second-half rally that was worth standing in the cold to watch.

Now, the Bulldogs must beat Eudora to clinch the district title. It’s a rivalry game and a road game. Eudora must also win to hope for a shot at advancing in the playoffs.

With so much at stake, I feel confident in the Bulldogs’ ability to rise to the occasion and come through with a much-needed victory. A win would bring them back to Liston Stadium — where BHS is 4-0 this season.

Go Bulldogs.

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