De Soto — A winning record and interceptions highlighted this year’s summer football league for the Baldwin High School football team here.
For the small group of Bulldogs that participated in the 7-on-7 passing league, the 2008 season was a success. BHS finished the four-week campaign with a 4-2-2 record.
“This year was fun,” senior Sam Beecher said. “You could tell we got better week to week. The quarterback and receivers also started connecting better and the timing of the routes was better. It was fun, especially when you win.”
Beecher was one of the two players who played quarterback for Baldwin. He was joined at the position by fellow senior Clad Kueffer. Both switched games and managed to lead the Bulldogs to a winning season.
Although winning is a nice feeling, BHS coach Mike Berg was just happy to see his players improve each week and grow as a team.
“This was a very successful summer league,” Berg said. “I am very proud of our guys and their effort. For not throwing the ball very much last year, we actually looked like a passing team.
“It’s exciting as a coach to see we have kids who know how to run routes,” he said. “We’ve got two new guys at quarterback who are throwing the ball well. We had fun and that’s what this was about, just having fun and working on things.”
While the offense produced dozens of touchdowns and helped win a few games. Berg was also enthusiastic about the Bulldogs’ defense, especially one senior in particular.
“Andy Thurlow had eight interceptions in three weeks,” Berg said. “He wasn’t here this week. If we would have had him here tonight, we probably would have won both games.”
Baldwin went 0-1-1 during its final night of action Monday. BHS lost to Shawnee Mission North, but tied Piper with a last-second touchdown from Beecher.
The BHS players improved their skills and timing during the summer league. Another improvement, that can’t be seen, is camaraderie.
“It’s really fun playing with these guys,” Beecher said. “I am friend with all of these guys. We are a really close team. It’s really intense, but we have a fun time out there. We play as if it’s a game, not life or death.”
Of course, any of the BHS players or coaches would be the first to say that improving as a team is the primary goal of the league. The passing game is the main area of focus, since no running plays are allowed.
“We can’t practice with them, so this is their practice,” Berg said. “I saw some rhythm as the weeks went on. We kept getting better and improving. Guys knew where to be on routes and where the ball was going to be thrown. The object is to get better and it worked.”
BHS seldom passed the ball last fall as its single wing offense controlled the line of scrimmage by running the ball. Although Beecher and Kueffer are fairly new at playing quarterback, Berg is hoping they can improve the Bulldogs’ passing dimension.
“To be more balanced offensively can only help us,” Berg said. “It was great to be able to run the ball as much as we did last year and we’ll still be able to do it this year, but we have that passing threat now. Teams will know it, because they saw us out here. It’s going to keep them honest and putting 10 guys in the box.”
“This year coach Berg is planning on us throwing a bit more than last year,” Beecher said. “This helps us a lot, because neither Clad or I have played quarterback much before. It helped us learn some of the routes and how to better play the quarterback role.”
Although the position is new to him, Beecher enjoyed his time as the signal caller.
“I enjoy it a lot,” he said. “I used to go out and play catch all of the time, so I always thought I could throw well. Just being able to throw good isn’t even half of it, because you have to read all of the routes.”
Now that the 7-on-7 league is over, the Bulldogs have begun to focus on their team camp and the season. Their camp starts July 28 and the players know it.
“At Bulldog Days this morning, players were chanting out ‘two more weeks,’” Beecher said Monday. “Everybody is excited about camp and getting a lot better this season.”
Many of the BHS players have been lifting weights and running at Bulldogs Days to get stronger and faster for the upcoming season. Berg has been proud of those players and even he is excited about camp.
“We’ve got a lot of guys that have full-time jobs and they still find time for the weight room,” Berg said. “That’s how much heart they have. They are just kids that want to keep the tradition going and win again, because last year was a fun ride.
“Camp can’t get here soon enough,” he said. “With all of the rules, we can’t coach our guys, so we will love to coach them during camp.”
Baldwin City Signal
Baldwin City, KS