When Daidrien Aho leaned across the goal line for the Cyclones’ only touchdown of the game, the contest had already been decided, but that score rewarded Aho on senior night for his hard work at Steve Grogan Stadium.
Ottawa, playing short-handed because of injury and with many players lining up at new positions, fell to Frontier League power Louisburg, 49-7. It was Ottawa’s sixth consecutive loss in a season that has put the team up against some of the best in the state.
“The Frontier League is loaded, top to bottom,” coach Rob Hedrick said. “It’s a tough, tough league. I know the score is not what we wanted but the kids battled, they practice so hard and play so hard. They never quit and care about each other."
Ottawa started the game with six starters out, including senior quarterback Caleb Kessinger. Aho stepped into that role and finished with 72 yards, rushing on 21 carries, and was 4-of-16 passing for 91 yards.
The Cyclone defense came out charged up against Louisburg’s starters. Twice they were able to get the Wildcats in third-down situations and both times they could not get a stop when they needed it. That would be a common theme for the game.
“Our defense did a nice job but we couldn’t get them off the field,” Hedrick said. “They kept popping those third-down conversions. And my goodness they have some team speed. I think that’s what we have noticed from top to bottom in our league, there is just a lot of speed. They got to the edge on us tonight and we just couldn’t keep up.”
Louisburg scored three times in the first quarter. Ottawa had a punt blocked and had two drives stopped by penalties. In the second quarter, it looked like Ottawa was controlling the Wildcat offense but gave up a 61-yard touchdown run. Louisburg then did an onside kick and recovered the ball, setting up another score.
With the clock running out in the third quarter, Aho capped a long drive for Ottawa with an 11-yard touchdown run. Hedrick praised his interim quarterback for his performance.
“Daidrien did a fantastic job stepping in as quarterback,” he said. “He’s such a fine football player. I think he’s played almost every position for us in his time at Ottawa High School except offensive line. We had a lot of kids playing out of position tonight but they gave it their all.”
The Cyclones have been eliminated from playoff contention. The regular season ends Friday and then the Cyclones will have a final game on Nov. 1, with the opponent and location still to be determined.
Ottawa faces undefeated Tonganoxie at 7 p.m. Friday on the road. Tonganoxie is ranked No. 4 in the state, and Hedrick knows his team will be facing a tough task.
“We are going to clock in Monday and go to work and give it our best effort,” he said. “They have an all-state lineman, who is an absolute beast. Their tailback has put up tons of yards this year. They are a run heavy football team and you have to line up and stop them. It’s a big challenge, but I know the boys are going to work and give it our best.”