The Cyclones (2-4) open district play 7 p.m. Friday at Baldwin (4-2). The Bulldogs’ offense is tough to stop.
Baldwin employs the wing-T offense led by explosive junior quarterback Cornell Brown, who had more than 350 yards of total offense in the 31-14 win over Louisburg last week. Brown rushed for 231 yards two weeks ago against De Soto.
“He moved to quarterback position two weeks ago because of an injury,” Ottawa coach Marc Bergan said. “He scares me to no end. He is a little fire hydrant. He is not real tall, but very strong. He has quick feet. We have to be able to slow him down. He has carried the ball a ton.
“He can do many things. Their counter gave us fits last year. He was the one running the counter. They have a tight end/fullback who is a big target. [Dayton Valentine] is a load. They run it from a lot of different areas. They will throw it. They make you defend horizontally and vertically.”
The Ottawa offense came to life late against Spring Hill behind the passing attack. Ottawa scored three touchdowns in the final seven minutes for a 30-25 victory.
Bergan said the offense needs that kind of performance against Baldwin.
“We talked about shortening the game to keep their offense off the field,” Bergan said. “That will help us out. Offense ... defense go hand-in-hand. We want to limit their offensive possessions.”
“You have to be gap sound,” Bergan said. “Everybody is responsible for a gap. You got to keep contain and pursuit angles. You have to keep the integrity of your defensive framework in place.”
That will be a tough assignment for the Cyclones.
“We have a difficult challenge ahead,” Bergan said. “They are playing as well as anybody we’ve seen up to this point. The last two weeks they have played awfully good football.”
The Ottawa defense has played through some rocky moments and gave the Cyclones a chance in every game.
“We stayed right with it,” Bergan said. “Defensively we have found a way to stop the momentum.”
District play in Kansas determines if teams advance to the playoffs. The top two teams in each district qualify for the playoffs.
“Everybody is 0-0,” Bergan said. “What we’ve done to this point is to get us ready for district play. We have a difficult district. Eudora and Baldwin have played very well. It definitely will be a challenge for us. The win [last week] gives our kids confidence.”
For the seniors, the end of their careers is in sight.
“The seniors should have a sense of urgency,” Bergan said. “They are guaranteed three more games. They are hoping for more. It is winding down quickly.
“Every class has accomplished some firsts. If you win two, you are in the playoffs. That would be the next step.”
Greg Mast can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org