The Paola Panthers will face something they have not seen in quite some time Friday night when the undefeated Osawatomie Trojans come to town for the annual Tom-Tom game. The operative word in that sentence is the UNDEFEATED Osawatomie Trojans, add to that a state ranking and it make for good theater, but will it make for a good game.
On paper, this game promises to be a good one, with the Panthers carrying state rankings early until back to back defeats to Gardner and Eudora dropped them out of the polls. The Trojans on the other hand had ridden three come from behind, fourth quarter thrillers and three blow outs to climb into the state rankings for the first time in a long time.
The Trojans are impressing on the offensive side to the ball, averaging over 40 points per game on the strength of a quality passing game led by quarterback Seth Jones who has hit just over 50% of his passes (63/114) for 775 yards and 17 touchdowns and just five interceptions. The Trojans have four receivers with double digit receptions on the season, with the top target being Brandon Oakes, with 20 catches for 241 yards and seven touchdowns. Other leading receivers for the Trojans are Dylon Needham withi 13 catches for 118 yards and three touchdowns, Hunter Taylor with 12 catches for 168 yards and two touchdowns and Daine Needham with 11 catches for 139 yards and three scores.
The Trojans have been equally effective on the ground, as Jameson Greenwood has lead the Osawatomie attack with 107 carries for 870 yards, an impressive 8.13 yard per carry average. Oakes has done plenty of damage carrying the ball also, with 30 carries for 308 yards and a 10.27 per carry average.
Defensively though, the Trojans have not exactly been great at keeping the opposition out of the end zone. Although the Trojans have posted two shut outs on the season, they came against winless Jayhawk Linn, who has scored exactly 14 points in six games on the season so far, and against Central Heights, which has posted exactly two wins on the season, in their four losses, the Vikings scored exactly six points. So the Trojans have been doing what is necessary to win, three times on the season, Osawatomie has required a fourth quarter comeback to secure victory, once, against Wellsville the Trojans were forced to double overtime to bring home the win.
Still the Trojans have enough weapons to garner the attention of the Panther coaching staff. “Osawatomie has a good team with strong, fast playmakers,” said Paola Head Coach Mike Dumpert following the Panthers win over Spring Hill last Friday. “It will take a complete effort on our part to defeat them.”
The Panthers will counter with a pretty familiar offensive and defensive scheme. When Paola possesses the ball, they will look for their star running back Skylar Hawkins to carry the bulk of the time. Sophomore quarterback Seth Kern who has been hot and cold on the season will be looked to to provide additional yardage on the ground, as will Tyler Henness and Ryan Schultz. The Panthers don’t throw often but when Kern drops back, he usually looks for Daniel Mawby.
Defensively, the Panthers will look to slow the Trojan run game and play particular attention to the passing game. The Trojans certainly will throw the second best passing game at Paola that they will have faced all season long. Gardner did some damage through the air against Paola, but even as good as the Trojans are, they are a long way from being in the Gardner and Bubba Starling category.
Overall the Trojans will pose a formidable task for the Panthers, and this game should live up to its on paper billing. The winner of this game will keep pace with the Louisburg Wildcats who face the Prairie View Buffalos who have just one win on the season.
'Cats face Buffalos in district opener
The Louisburg Wildcats are coming off an easy victory last week over winless Baldwin. This week they begin their District play against the Prairie View Buffaloes. For the Wildcats it is a difficult position. While a win is a win, some are more significant than others. Prairie View at 1-5, playing a less difficult schedule should not put up a good test for the Wildcats. The Cat’s do not want to be looking past them and get in a “fist fight”, in preparation for the next two district games.
As the district schedule approaches, it is preferable to be well tested, and win, rather than be in two low tempo games that do not prove anything to the players or coaches. If it sounds as if Prairie View isn’t going to be a good opponent this Friday, it is difficult to believe they will. Any seasoned university or professional athlete will tell you the “mental” part of the game is more difficult than the physical. That is not to say football, at any level, is not physical!
Getting “amped up” for when it counts is easy if your team has been challenged several times through out the season, especially in the past two games. Unfortunately that has not been the case for the 2009 Wildcats. The fact is, their talent and ability may contribute to being one of their better defenses in the past few years. They could easily slide through Friday night without their best effort and then have to face Osawatomie and Paola with their A Game, defensively and offensively.
It is a conundrum for any coaching staff in preparing their team in late season.
And it is not all on the coaches. Each player, at every position has an opportunity to work on and improve some part of their game that perhaps they have not been satisfied with, regardless of the strength of the opponent. Approached from that point of view, individual accountability for their best effort will serve them well Friday night. Let’s hope the Wildcat players approach it that way!
District Game 2
District Game 3