Mustangs, Tigers set to tangle

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Sports

October 18, 2012 - 12:00 AM

It’s regroup and refocus time for Iola High’s Mustangs, whose three-game winning streak came to an unceremonious end on a soggy Friday evening against Chanute.
Iola saw the Blue Comets capitalize on some key passes in the first half, while Iola’s scoring chances were just out of reach.
“I don’t know if the guys were disappointed when they watched film as much as just realizing how close they were to having a winning-type of performance on the field,” said Mustang head coach Doug Kerr. “They realized it was a missed block here, or a missed tackle there from stopping some of their big plays.”
The loss, in the first round of Class 4A, District 6 play puts the Mustangs in a must-win situation against an even tougher opponent this week.
Former Southeast Kansas League foe Fort Scott comes rolling into town Friday with a seven-game winning streak and state ranking in tow.
Fort Scott has a lethal combination of size and athleticism, Kerr noted, but the Tigers’ biggest advantage may be cerebral.
“When you watch them on film, you see just how well-coached they are,” Kerr said. “The kids are all in with the program, and they’re so disciplined and structured that they just wait for you to make a mistake. And when you do, they capitalize.”
Fort Scott features dual-threat quarterback Johnathan Stark and all-everything running back Marques Floyd, both seniors. They spearhead an offense averaging 41 points a game, having played a number of regional powers, including Pittsburg and Coffeyville.
When arriving as Mustang head coach this fall, Kerr said he used Fort Scott as a model for Iola to follow, in terms of team philosophy and offseason preparation.
Tiger head coach Bob Campbell, in turn, was equally effusive in his praise of Kerr’s Mustang squad.
“They’re 5-2 and they’ve got a lot of confidence,” Campbell said. “They do a lot of good things on offense. They run the ball effectively, and they play aggressively on defense.”
Just as importantly, Kerr seems to have gotten Iola’s players to buy in on his own philosophy, Campbell said.
“The kids play hard, which is what you need when it comes to any program to become successful,” he said.
Slowing Iola’s offense will hinge on Fort Scott’s defensive line playing well, Campbell said. If the defensive line can control the line of scrimmage, it will free up the Tigers’ linebackers to attack the ball-carriers and receivers.
Likewise, Kerr said dealing with Fort Scott’s mammoth offensive line (average weight: 254 pounds) as the key to the Mustangs’ defensive success.
“We’ve reminded the guys that they still control their own destiny,” Kerr said. “Somebody from this district is getting into the playoffs at 2-1. We want it to be us.”
Just as importantly, Kerr said Iola has a chance to build momentum from the football campaign into the winter sports and through the offeseason into 2013.
“We’ve got a Pioneer League Crown, and our cross country runners went 1, 2 and 4 in their league meet,” Kerr said. “This is something our other teams can build on and be successful as well.”
Iola will start Tyler Clubine at center, while Aaron Barclay will shift to offensive guard in the starting lineup.
“We wanted Tyler to get a start on senior night,” Kerr said. “We’ll rotate guys in and out.”
The Iola seniors will be honored in a pregame ceremony prior to the 7 p.m. kickoff at Riverside Park.

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