Archive for Thursday, September 10, 2009

Column: Local teams offer plenty to support

Off the Rim column

September 10, 2009

Footballs are flying, volleyballs are being spiked and runners are taking over golf courses … ahhhh, it’s like heaven.

Well, except that it happens every fall.

I can’t hide my love for fall sports anymore. The secret’s been out for quite some time and I’m not ashamed to admit it. My passion for football has existed since I was a wee lil tot and it’s only grown stronger as I get older.

Obviously, cross country is one sport I can’t get enough of each fall. It was a part of my life for nine straight years and it helped shape me into who I am, so I have no regrets. Plus, a successful program makes it much easier to cover a sport that doesn’t get much attention at most schools.

As far as volleyball, I can count on my hand the number of matches I attended while a student at Baldwin High School. Then I became a fan of the sport at Baker University. I had good friends who dragged me to the matches before I covered the sport for three seasons as a Baker Orange reporter.

I’m learning to enjoy soccer more each year as I learn more about the sport. The same can be said for tennis, since I’m trying to learn how to play it recreationally. Let’s save that for another column, as I’m focusing on the fall season here.

Baldwin High and Baker University have been competing in fall sports’ contests for two weeks now. There have been some highs and lows thus far, but this weekend has the potential to increase the excitement around this town.

It starts today with the BHS soccer squad, which will be trying to earn its first win of the season at Spring Hill. The youthful Bulldogs played well in their first three games, but had a rough outing Tuesday. However, they will finish the Frontier League Tournament Saturday. I’m predicting a win today against the Broncos, let’s say 2-1 in favor of the Bulldogs.

On Friday, the BHS football team is back at home for its second game of the season. After a disappointing loss in the opener, the Bulldogs would love to see fans supporting them as they go for a win. Unfortunately, the Bulldogs host Class 5A Gardner-Edgerton.

Sadly, if I’m making predictions, I see a Trailblazer victory. Gardner is too big and fast for a much smaller school like Baldwin. However, the road does get easier after this week for the Bulldogs, but come out Friday anyway.

Saturday presents lots of options for locals. The earliest and closest event is the Baldwin Invitational Volleyball Tournament. The BHS squad will be hosting its annual event and the Bulldogs have shown signs of major improvement.

I wasn’t sure how much better they were from a year ago until they began playing. But I was wowed at their performance last week at Eudora. I know it’s just two wins, but I believe this team will be one to reckon with all season. I’m predicting a third-place finish at the tournament Saturday.

If volleyball isn’t your cup of tea, you can always drive west to Wamego. The BHS cross country teams will be taking part in the large meet that is almost a preview of state. The BHS girls’ squad is very strong this fall and, barring any injuries or sickness, should bring home its third straight 4A title.

The boys will compete for a state medal again. They have some work to do to close the gap between the first and fifth runners, but coach Mike Spielman knows how to do it each year. I’m seeing a girls’ victory and a third-place finish for the boys.

If you’re back home Saturday evening with no plans, come back out to Liston Stadium for some Baker University football. The Wildcats will be playing their home opener against rival MidAmerica Nazarene. They lost 42-41 a year ago in a game that decided the conference champion.

Baker has the motivation after last year’s overtime loss. Add in the mix that the Wildcats were badly beaten this week at Missouri Valley and it’s the home opener against a highly-ranked team and you’ve got the recipe for a classic battle. Since I’m predicting results, I’ll end the weekend with a 31-28 Baker win as kicker Derek Doerfler boots the last-second field goal to redeem himself from last fall.

Come out and support these strong local fall teams. We’re blessed with plenty of talented sports teams so let’s support them.

Go Bulldogs and Wildcats.

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