Following up a 10-3 season that ended in the Class 4A state semifinal round is a tough task for any high school football team.
Throw in to the mix that the 2007 squad was loaded with 15 seniors, six of whom signed to play on the collegiate level. It’s a chore that Baldwin High School coach Mike Berg is eager to take on with a bit of confidence.
“The kids are working hard and we’ve got 15 seniors leading this team,” Berg said. “Yes, we lost a quality senior class last year, but these guys know what it takes to be successful. They worked hard this summer, they’re leaders out here on the field and it’s going to be a fun year again.”
One benefit this year’s squad has over the 2007 team is the return of the same offensive philosophy. A year ago, the single wing offense ran over opponents, averaging 334 yards per game on the ground.
“We are way ahead of where we were last year offensively,” Berg said. “We’ve got our whole playbook in by now, so we are just fine-tuning things.”
The leading offensive star for the Bulldogs returns for his senior campaign. Sam Beecher led Baldwin’s three-headed monster backfield a year ago with 1,665 yards and he looks to do much of the same this fall.
“Our offensive line is looking really good, so individually I think I can have another good season like last year,” Beecher said. “Hopefully, that will carry over to the entire team so we can all be successful.”
Joining Beecher in the backfield will be several players. Those could include senior Carson Wood, sophomore Josh Hoffman and senior Andy Thurlow. Baldwin’s offensive line played a big part in last year’s success. Berg is hoping this year’s protection will be as solid with David Tuley, David Garrison, Ethan Hebenstriet and Brandon Mitchell blocking. The spot for center is still open, according to Berg.
“We have a little bit more size back there with our blocking back and not so much finesse with another thrower,” Berg said. “Our offensive line is just as big as last year, so it’s pretty much going to be the same team you saw last year with a little more experience at some positions and a little less at some.”
Baldwin will also have some threats at wide receiver. Those include seniors Brandon Tommer and Clad Kueffer, both standing taller than 6-foot-3.
Of course, it’s not all offense for the Bulldogs. They hope to have a strong defense again, especially upfront and in the secondary. Berg is confident both will help a young linebacking core.
“Andy Thurlow, Logan Schiller, Brandom Tommer and Josh Hoffman look great back there,” Berg said of the secondary. “We’ve got four quality kids there. I’ve got a good linebacking core also. They aren’t very experienced, but they know what to do.
“We’ve got both of our defensive ends back in Carson Wood and Ethan Hebenstreit. We’ve got Tuley, Garrison, Mitchell and others in the mix on the inside. We’re going to try and rotate a lot of guys in there.”
Baldwin will begin the season with a pair of road games before finally playing at Baker University’s Liston Field Sept. 19. The Bulldogs will travel to Paola Friday and Gardner-Edgerton the next week to begin the season.
This year will also be the first for the new eight-team Frontier League during the football season. Baldwin’s district opponents are different this year as it will be playing Perry-Lecompton, Santa Fe Trail and the usual, Eudora.
“It is nice, but the only bad thing is there are no easy games,” Berg said of the smaller league. “Every week we are against a 5A school or big 4A school. It’s going to be tough. “We’re also looking forward to playing a couple of teams out of our league. It should be interesting.”
Baldwin City Signal - 703 High Street - Baldwin City, KS 66006
Baldwin (Bulldogs) High School - 415 Eisenhower - Baldwin City, Kansas 66006