Mustangs rout Burlington on Homecoming
High School Football: Mustangs 28, Wildcats 6
Sometimes a win is worth a clean-shaven face.
At least it was for Iola head coach David Daugharthy Friday night after his team surprised many by putting up a 28-6 homecoming victory over Burlington.
The team and many others bunched around him right outside of the locker room and, in turn, each shaved a little of Daugharthy’s long black beard until the second-year coach was nearly bare.
“I needed a trim anyway,” Daughthy joked. “So I said, ‘Whatever the kids will get behind, I guess?’ It was a bonding moment for me and the kids, which I like, even if it makes me look like an idiot.”
He went on to say that one the assistant coaches suggested the stunt as a motivational tool early in the week. A homecoming win versus Burlington would mean shaved faces for the entire staff including Daugharthy and his hirsute brother, assistant coach Dana Daugharthy.
But Daugharthy wasn’t the only one who was sporting a new look as the Mustangs, 2-4 overall and 2-1 in district play, seemed a far cry from the team who had the clock run against them in the fourth quarter in the three of their first four games of the season.
Meanwhile, Burlington (3-3, 1-2) came into the game fresh off of a 28-0 loss by what seems to be the top team in the Pioneer League in Prairie View. Aside from that their resume was nothing to sneeze at.
The Wildcats handled Wellsville fairly easily early in the season and their only other loss was on the road against an a highly regarded Olpe team that’s tops in 1A.
Yes, Iola had demolished Osawatomie but so far this year and for the past several, everyone has demolished Osawatomie. It wasn’t anything to get too excited about.
Friday’s win, however, was definitely something worth shouting for.
Burlington started with the ball and the Iola defense forced the first of eight turnovers on downs. It was a losing proposition for the Wildcats nearly every time they tried to run on an Iola defense that was porous to start the season.
“Burlington is a team that even really good defenses have trouble getting off the field and this is two weeks in a row that we’ve just been dominant,” Daugharthy said. “We owned them through three-plus quarters. I think part of it is our preparation. We’ve worked so hard on trying to get stops knowing if we did that, then we’d be able to do something offensively.”
The stops also came from turnovers, Iola grabbed a fumble early in the game on a bad snap and four interceptions throughout the second half. Burlington’s only points came with 2:30 to play in the game after an Iola fumble set them up with the ball at three yardline.
“We’re getting a lot more pressure on the quarterback which helps,” Daugharthy said of the interceptions. “But we’re also much better in coverage. We’re doing what we’re supposed to do and making smart plays and keeping our eyes where they need to be. Tonight that was led by (senior cornerback Kane Rogers who had a pick). I don’t think they completed a ball over the top of him throughout the entire game.”
Offensively, the Mustangs weren’t as dominant as they were last week but they did more than enough to put this one away led by junior quarterback Casen Barker and sophomore running back Isaac Badders.
Barker built off of the win in Osawatomie with a 21-yard touchdown pass to senior Elijah Luedke for the first score of the game.
While official stats were unavailable as of press time, Barker continues to show his improvement throwing the ball as he picked apart Burlington for most of the night and gave up just one interception in the end zone late in the first quarter.
“He played a really good game,” Daugharthy said. “Even the pick he threw wasn’t a bad ball. There’s such a big difference between him throwing the ball last year and this year. He still needs to read the field a little bit better but overall he’s a tough kid who plays hard and that was evident.”
He also ran Iola’s third touchdown in from five-yards out to close out the first half.
Badders, on the other hand, has started to show some of that promise again that he showed through middle school and his freshman year.
The sophomore brutalized Burlington defenders all night. Everything from running over them to running around them, he did it and racked up two touchdowns including a real nice 15-yard option pitch in the third quarter.
“He’s been a real fighter,” Daugharthy said. “It doesn’t matter what we tell him, he’ll work hard and do exactly that. But it was nice to get him going early. You can see that he just has natural vision. He can bounce outside quick or cut back and make some really nice plays.”
The win now finds Iola as controllers of their own destiny moving forward. A win next week at home versus Girard basically guarantees them a play-in game for the playoffs. A win the week after over Prairie View will give them the division title.
Considering where the Mustangs were just a few weeks ago when they got blind sighted by Anderson County, things have the potential to look very promising if this type of play continues.
“The kids were really down after that (Anderson County) game and they could’ve easily folded,” Daugharthy said. “So I give them a lot of credit for buckling down. They’re taking a lot of pride in being a Mustang right now and for me, that’s more than worth a shave.”