The Ottawa High School football team has not been in this situation since 2003, the last time the Cyclones had a winning season and made the playoffs.
Ottawa is 1-1 in district play and 4-4 overall heading into today’s finale at Santa Fe Trail. An Ottawa win coupled with a Baldwin victory over Eudora gives the Cyclones a playoff berth.
“It is nice to be playing for something on Thursday ... the last game of the year,” Ottawa coach Rob Hedrick said. “It has been a long time. Everybody is excited.
“The boys have accomplished a lot, but they know it is not enough. They want more. It is nice to have pressure.”
Nobody has locked up a playoff berth yet. There is a possibility of three-way ties at either 2-1 or 1-2.
“It could get messy,” Hedrick said. “We have to take care of us and win. That is what we need ... to win. We will come to play.”
Hedrick said Santa Fe Trail will not lay down for Ottawa.
“We are going to have to earn it,” Hedrick said. “They have good athletes. They never quit. It is going to be tough. They are a good team. They have been blown out twice — by Holton and Baldwin. Santa Fe Trail playing Eudora tough was not a fluke.”
Ottawa wants a repeat of Friday’s win over Eudora when the Cyclones ran over the Cardinals. Ottawa rushed for more than 300 yards.
“We are going to have to have success on the ground,” Hedrick said. “We have to play clean. Isaac [McCullough] was really good Friday night. He made just one questionable decision on a pass. That is what we need him to do.
“We won’t be flat. They will be prepared and ready. We have to execute.”
The Chargers’ defense is tough to match up against.
“Santa Fe Trail is so aggressive in what they do,” Hedrick said. “They are blitzing every play. They are good at it. They have not been beat deep. That is why they can be so aggressive in the box.
“The way they play defense, you never know. It is hard to pass block against them because the way they play their defensive ends. They are always bringing someone. Their defense does a good job of keeping the quarterback contained when you sprint out.”
Offensively, the Chargers always dig deep into the playbook.
“They always have trick plays,” Hedrick said. “They always bring them out. They run close to the same offense as Eudora does. That preparation wise will help us.”