Trailblazers remain powerful 5A opponent
If the Baldwin High School football team wants to begin the season 2-0, it must defeat a school that is nearly double its size.
The Bulldogs will also have to defeat a team it hasn't beat since 2005. That was the year before Gardner-Edgerton hired Marvin Diener, the coach who won multiple state championships with Salina Central.
BHS coach Mike Berg has been once again preparing his Bulldog team for a larger opponent and a road game.
"They are a very well-coached team," Berg said of GEHS. "This is coach Diener's third year there and he has them playing well. He started a lot of sophomores his first year, who are now seniors. They are very physical and athletic. It will be a tough game."
Baldwin will take on the Trailblazers Friday in Gardner. Kickoff for the Frontier League matchup is set for 7 p.m.
Last week, the Trailblazers crushed De Soto 39-0 in their opener. After watching film of his next opponent over the weekend, Berg was impressed by the GEHS.
"They are a very physical team, just like last year," Berg said. "They have a lot of good athletes all over the field."
On offense, he saw Gardner-Edgerton throwing the ball quite a bit out of the shotgun formation. Berg also knows they have a powerful rushing attack that runs behind a large offensive line.
The Trailblazers played a 4-4 defense a week ago against the Wildcats. Berg expects to see the same defense, which contains two talented defensive ends.
"We think their defensive ends are the strength of their team," Berg said. "Then their linebackers come in and clean up."
One advantage for the Class 5A Trailblazers over teams like Baldwin is the ability to use players on offense or defense only. The larger number of students provides Gardner with a chance to use players on one side of the ball, while the Bulldogs use many players on both offense and defense.
"They can two platoon with that many players, so we are doing extra conditioning this week to get ready for that," Berg said. "We have to try and shorten the game to keep our players rested as much as we can. We're up for the challenge."
In 2007, Gardner scored a late touchdown to beat Baldwin at the Bulldog Bash. The Trailblazers torched Baldwin 36-19 in 2006, which was Diener's first year at the helm. Friday will be Gardner's home opener.