The 2018 football season comes to a close on Saturday for the Saint Mary Spires when they travel to McPherson. McPherson enters the game at 3-6. The Bulldogs are coming off of a 41-18 loss to Sterling last Saturday. The Spires are also 3-6 and are coming off of a 45-35 senior day victory over Southwestern. Head coach Jay Osborne was asked if the victory was sweeter with it being senior day. 

“I do think so,” Osborne said. “The guys had a really good look about them. They understood where the opportunities were schematically in the game and consistently made the play.”

Osborne said a key to the win was ball control. 

“We started last spring teaching everyone how to carry a football,” Osborne said. “Offensive and defensive linemen included. Our defense has forced a bunch of turnovers this year, so holding onto the ball is important for every player we have. It has been a steady focus, but we have just continued to preach and teach. I was very happy to see the Spires get better and win the turnover margin. That is a key in any football game. Drew (Cortez) also played his best game mentally. He really helped by making good decisions and good throws.”

Turnovers have been an issue for the Spires all season. USM committed 29 turnovers on the year entering the game against the Moundbuilders. Their opponents only had 20. Saint Mary only committed one turnover compared to the six by Southwestern. 

After the months of practice and preparation, Osborne said the team is ready to end on a high note. 

“These guys want to end on a high note,” Osborne said. “The seniors are working to help build for next year. We want to prove that we can play with the KCAC and going on the road to get a win has not happened in 2018. We should retain 85 percent of the Spires that play on Saturday for 2019. This game is big for both now and moving forward. We talk about family and those seniors we have believe in the younger guys and their future as Spires.”

Osborne said the keys to winning will be winning the turnover battle again, containing the McPherson quarterback rush, playing well on special teams and continuing to build confidence. 

“We have played better over the past four weeks,” Osborne said. “That needs to continue.”

Saint Mary and McPherson will close out the 2018 season on Saturday. Kickoff is scheduled for 1 p.m.