Pregame Outlook — Mustangs play finale for pride



October 27, 2010 - 12:00 AM

Focus. That’s been stressed by the Iola High football coaching staff so far this week.
“When there’s no playoff spot on the line, it’s tough to have the players focused on the last game of the season,” said Rick Horton, Mustang head coach.
“This is about pride for both teams Thursday. We want to give our seniors a win for their final game for Iola and a win for us to build on for next year.”
Iola High’s Mustangs are 0-8 in 2010. They have lost 10 football games in a row since the end of the 2009 season.
The Mustangs host Prairie View High’s Buffalos, who are 4-4, Thursday at Riverside Park. The Class 4A, District 6 contest and final regular-season game kicks off at 7 p.m.
The Buffalos are coming off a 49-0 loss to Fort Scott Friday. The Mustangs lost 61-46 to Anderson County last week.
Anderson County (6-2) hosts Fort Scott (5-3) Thursday for the Class 4A, District 6 championship. Both teams are 2-0 in district play and are advancing into next week’s Class 4A playoffs.
But for the Mustangs and Buffalos, Thursday’s game is it for the season.
“We’re looking to bounce back from three straight losses,” said Doug Whitcraft, Prairie View head coach. “It’s an attitude thing and we’ve got to have the desire to come out and win this game.”
Whitcraft, who had been an assistant coach at PVHS the past 20 years, stepped into the head coaching position this season. The Buffalos finished third in the Pioneer League this year behind Class 3A’s Wellsville (7-1) and Anderson County.
The Buffalos have posted four wins this season after a 1-8 2009 campaign.
Prairie View brings the wishbone offense to Riverside Park Thursday. Last week at Fort Scott, the Buffalos didn’t score but possessed the football for 13 1/2 minutes to start the game, which included a 21-play drive.
“No, Prairie View didn’t score but the wishbone offense they run eats up the clock.” Horton said. “They shorten games because they just run the football.
“But they turn the ball over a lot also. So we have to stop their running game and force turnovers. We’re going to load up the box and force them to beat us with the pass.”
Passing is not something the Buffalos do much of, or well. Whitcraft said his team only passes “when we’re forced to.” The Buffalos were 1 of 6 passing last week at Fort Scott.
Neither Iola or Fort Scott are offensive juggernauts. The Mustangs, although they have scored 51 points in one game and 46 in another, only average just over 23 points a game. Prairie View averages 13 points a game.
Iola’s defense hasn’t been able to hold many opponents from reaching the end zone this season. The Mustangs have given up an average of nearly 56 points a game.
Prairie View’s defense has allowed 189 points, which is a 23.6 points a game average.
Offensively for the Buffalos, junior Matt Ferguson is set to start at quarterback. Aaron Brintnal, a senior, is another quarterback used by Prairie View.
Prairie View had senior Stefan Davis and junior Tyler Stillians as the halfbacks in the wishbone backfield. Jacob Kelly, a junior, is the fullback.
“We just need to eliminate the turnovers and run our offense. Defensively against Iola, we have to play smart football. We don’t see many spread offenses like Iola runs and we have to continue to play assignment-sound,” Whitcraft said.
Prairie View usually plays a 4-4 or 3-4 defense.
“We’ve only seen film on them against teams like Anderson County and Fort Scott, which don’t operate out of spread offensive formations,” Horton said the Buffalos.
“We expect they might come out with a different defensive look against us.”
Horton said the Buffalo team is bigger than the Mustangs but Iola has faced that fact most of the games this season.
“Overall, this is it and we’re really emphasizing to our kids this week that it is important for them to come out ready to play. We haven’t done that very well this season,” Horton said. “Monday we had a great practice but I was disappointed in the focus of our kids Tuesday.”
The Mustangs have one more practice today to prepare for Thursday’s game. Horton said the Mustang coaches have told the players they have to bring their A effort in practice and in the game.
Horton said the Mustangs will be going with a similar looking defense to last week against Anderson County, a team that primarily ran the football. He said they’ve switched it around a bit but “we’ll bring linebackers up closer to the line of scrimmage. Prairie View is not going to pass the ball much and we have to stop the run.”
Offensively, the Mustangs have been slow starting this season, always playing from behind. Horton said it was important for his team to get on the board first and stay in front of Prairie View.
“We can’t give up a kickoff return for a touchdown like last week or let them have a long drive to score on our defense. We have to sustain drives, mixi up running plays and passing plays, and finish the drives with touchdowns,” Horton said.
Iola has senior Drew Shepherd back after he missed four games because of a concussion suffered in an automobile accident. Shepherd is slated to start at linebacker.
“We’re concerned about his conditioning so he won’t play offensively on the line,” Horton said.
Senior tailback Marcus Sullivan leads Iola’s running attack with 528 yards on 121 carries. Senior quarterback Charles Apt is 69 of 179 passing for 960 yards with nine touchdowns and 13 interceptions.
Apt has spread out the passes to junior Jerrik Sigg, senior Dylan Allen, juniors Clint Heffern and Corey Taylor as well as Sullivan.
Leading the Mustang defense is Apt at free safety, senior linebacker Kyle Heffern, sophomore defensive end/linebacker Stephen McDonald and Sigg at linebacker.

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