The Pioneers have lost two straight games after getting a 33-0 win over Shawnee Mission North in Week 2, and they go on the road to face the 6A state champions in Shawnee Mission West tonight.
The Vikings have the opposite record the Pioneers have, and are coming off their first loss of the season.
“They got beat by Free State last week, so that’s just added motivation for them,” said head coach Mark Littrell. “That’s OK. We’re up to the challenge.”
The Pioneers are still learning Littrell’s system, and he said the close loss to Olathe South in Week 3 was a jump for the team.
“The South game I really felt like that we had gotten over the hump,” he said. “I thought the kids played hard, especially in the second half. How they competed and how they played was more like teams I’m used to seeing and coaching.”
The teams Littrell is used to coaching are championship caliber.
He went to three 6A state title games at Olathe South. Littrell said there was a definite let down in last week’s 42-21 loss at Shawnee Mission Northwest.
“Last week was not a good week of practice,” he said. “This has been a good week of practice. I think they figured out that you’ve got to practice hard to play hard. It’s one of those things you can’t just turn off and on.”
They will have to flip the switch to on when they face the Vikings tonight at 7 p.m.
“They execute everything very well,” Littrell said about the Vikings. “They are well coached. They are a physical football team. We are going to have to play like we did against Olathe South.”
There are only two more games until district play, including tonight’s contest.
Littrell said he likes to separate the season into three sections, but he has had to change the plan a bit.
“We would always use the first three weeks as evaluation and the next three weeks to get us ready for districts and then the last three weeks to be our district games to get into the playoffs,” he said.
“Now we’ve had to adjust that a little to where it’s more of having the first three weeks for the players to understand the system and not so much evaluation. We are in the second week of our second cycle, and now we really need to step it up.”