Friday night will be road trips for the four area schools.
Leavenworth will travel to Bonner Springs to take on the Braves.
The 1-5 Pioneers are coming off of a 35-20 loss to Shawnee Heights last Friday and the Braves are coming in at 3-3 after a 40-9 win at Baldwin last week.
Head coach Mark Littrell said that working on fundamentals and doing what the team is coached to do on every play has remained an area of focus at practice this week.
The week’s practice schedule was altered due to the weather.
“We had to alter practice on Tuesday because of the threat of lightning in the area for about 30 minutes,” Littrell said. “We used that time to watch more film of Bonner Springs, but our practice schedule pretty much stayed the same. The players adapted well to the changes.”
Littrell said that the key to Friday’s game will be playing sound football for the entire game on every play.
With the regular season coming to a close, Littrell has seen a lot of improvements despite the record.
“We have improved in a lot of areas,” Littrell said. “Injuries always play a big part this time of the season. Our players needed a lot of playing time to improve their skills and familiarity.”
The Basehor-Linwood Bobcats will travel to Atchison this Friday. The Bobcats are sitting at 4-1 after a big win against De Soto last Friday.
Head coach Rod Stallbaumer feels like the structure of the playoffs and the play-in game helps keep the team from having a hangover after a big win.
“That is the nice thing about the current playoff structure is that every single game is important for seeding for the play-in game,” Stallbaumer said. “I haven't noticed much of a letdown in our focus yet. I think they understand that each game is important and if we want to achieve our goals we will need to continue to improve. That weekly improvement needs to happen every week regardless of who the opponent is.”
Stallbaumer said that the big focus this week has been on film to look at mistakes from last Friday’s game.
“We spent a longer time in film on Monday discussing some of the mistakes that we made,” Stallbaumer said. “And pointing out how important little moments were to the outcome of the game on Friday. How taking one play off, or one busted assignment or one mistake allowed a really good team to capitalize. Hopefully, those lessons will resonate with our kids. We also have put an increased emphasis on conditioning, nutrition and hydration this week to make sure we are functioning our best at the end of games.”
The weather altered the practices this week. Stallbaumer said the team spent more time looking at film and doing run-throughs in the gym. He felt like the team handled it well and maximized their time.
He also expects the rain this week will impact Friday’s game with a muddy field so the team spent some of Monday’s practice outside in the rain on grass to prepare.
The Bobcats’ opponent is the 3-3 Redmen. Atchison is coming off of a 42-7 loss to Louisburg last Friday.
Stallbaumer said that communication will be key to stopping the Redmen.
“Atchison has some really nice looking athletes,” Stallbaumer said. “And they run a wide variety of things schematically on offense and defense. It provides a challenge to prepare for all of that. We will need great communication to make sure we don't have blown assignments. They have a really strong fullback and some speed on the edge so we will need to be great tacklers and get a lot of hats to the ball this week defensively. Offensively we will need to read the defense and execute at a high level.”
The Lansing Lions look to extend their winning streak to three games when they travel to take on the Turner Golden Bears. The Lions are coming off of a 51-0 homecoming win against Harmon last week. The Golden Bears are 1-5 and are coming off of a 68-0 loss to Olathe West.
Head coach Dylan Brown said the big focus at practice this week was more fine-tuning.
“Just more fine-tuning,” Brown said. “Every game we get a little better, so the things we still need to focus on we spend a lot of time on those things, and hopefully every week there's less and fewer things for us to address, which means we can always spend more time on fine-tuning what we've become good at.”
Like Basehor-Linwood, the Lions also spent Monday’s practice on grass, but they moved to turf when the rain picked up to avoid messing up the grass field too much. The Tuesday practice was inside due to lightning and Brown said gym practices limit what the team can do.
“I will say it did provide us the opportunity to have a more cerebral practice than physical practice,” Brown said. “So the players were able to improve in that aspect.”
With Lansing’s two straight wins, the Lions are now 3-3 and are currently the eight seed for the Eastern bracket for the play-in playoff game. If Lansing is eighth or higher, they will host a playoff game, which Brown said would be only the second time that the Lions will have hosted a playoff game since he has been on staff. He said it would be big for the program and a sign that it is taking at least a small step in the right direction.
To get to that, the Lions will have to keep winning. Brown said a key will be limiting the Golden Bears’ physicality and aggression.
“Turner has some size,” Brown said, “and a couple of big backs that run hard. The key will be bringing up our level of physicality and aggression to take away any size advantage they have. Also playing mistake-free football on a potentially muddy and messy surface on Friday will go a long way toward victory.”
The Pleasant Ridge Rams will travel to Maur Hill on Friday as they look to improve to 5-2 against a 5-1 Maur Hill team coming off of a 40-8 win over Atchison County Community High School last Friday.
The Rams are coming off of a 52-22 win at Horton and racked up 436 yards on the night. Prior to the Horton game, head coach Pat McCollim said eliminating mental mistakes would be key for the Rams the rest of the year and he felt like the team did very well at that last Friday and will use that to move forward.
“I think last week we did very well with the mental side of the game offensively and defensively,” McCollim said. “We were very fundamental and assignment sound and did an excellent job of executing the game plan we put together. We will continue to focus on the importance of playing physical but keeping our poise and limiting mental mistakes in practice.”
The team has also worked on special teams at practice this week as that was a spot that McCollim was not happy with after the win. He said the team has practiced through multiple scenarios on special teams and explained what each player’s job would be in those scenarios.
McCollim also said that the team has improved a lot on their discipline throughout the season.
“We have really improved our discipline throughout the year,” McCollim said “Early in the season we often stopped ourselves on drives or allowed our opponent to continue drives with penalties. I don't want to jinx us, but I feel that the kids have done an excellent job of fixing that issue the last few games.”
McCollim said disciplined play will be key against a tough Maur Hill team.
“I know I sound like a broken record,” McCollim said. “But we must play disciplined in all phases. They are a very good team that has beaten us the last few years. We must protect the football on offense and limit their big plays on defense.”