Pregame Outlook — Mustangs need to contain Bulldogs

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Sports

October 21, 2010 - 12:00 AM

The opportunity to reach the Kansas Class 4A playoffs is right there for Iola High’s Mustangs.
But standing in the Mustangs’ way are Anderson County High’s Bulldogs and Prairie View High’s Buffalos. The Mustangs (0-7) have to win their final two football games to advance into postseason play.
First up are the Bulldogs (5-2) on Friday. The Mustangs travel to Garnett to take on Anderson County High. Kickoff is 7 p.m.
The Bulldogs are a team which wins by running the football. Senior halfback Alen Troyer has rushed for more yards (1,284) than all of Iola’s runners put together in 2010.
Troyer led Anderson County to a 36-21 win in Class 4A, District 6 play over Prairie View last week. He rushed for 347 yards and scored three touchdowns.
Nothing fancy about what the Bulldogs want to do in games.
“They run the ball and have really good runners. They run out of several formations,” said Rick Horton, Mustang head coach.
“That is why we’re changing things up defensively. We’re going to play some bigger guys on the line to slow down their running attack.”
Up front defensively, the Mustangs will have sophomore Stephen McDonald and junior Blake Appling playing defensive ends. McDonald has played linebacker and nose guard this season and Appling has played end and nose guard.
Iola is inserting two defensive tackles, moving away from its 3-4 look. Junior Brad Bazo (6-0, 203) and sophomore Eli Grover (6-1, 223) see their first defensive line action. They start as guard and tackle offensively.
The Mustangs will have four linebackers — Jerrik Sigg and Jacob Rhoads on the outside and Kyle Heffern and Marcus Sullivan on the inside.
“Anderson County doesn’t throw the ball much. In last week’s game, they attempted three passes. So we’re gearing to stop the run, limit their strength,” Horton said.
Anderson County head coach Don Hilliard confirmed the fact “we like to keep it (the football) on the ground.
“Although in the second half of the season we have improved our passing game. We throw the ball when we want to not when we have to because we attempt to keep ourselves in manageable situations on offense,” Hilliard said.
Along with Troyer the Bulldogs like to hand off the football to juniors Thomas Mudd and Seth Bowman. Sophomore Jack Rickabaugh directs the ACHS offense.
“We still run the option game but we also lineup and run out of a basic I formation,”Hilliard said.
Execution is the big factor offensively for the Mustangs. Horton said starting quarterback Charles Apt, who went out with an elbow injury in last week’s 69-21 loss to Fort Scott, practiced full speed Wednesday.
“Charles looked good and threw the ball well in practice. We are having Mason Coons take some reps just in case,” Horton said. “Marcus is running without his ankle bothering him.”
Sullivan, senior tailback, is Iola’s leading rusher with 396 yards. Freshman John Whitworth is hampered with a knee injury from Monday’s junior varsity game.
“Both practiced Wednesday. The big factor is we’re not in school Thursday and Friday. We’ll have a practice in the morning and have our team meal at 7 p.m. Thursday like normal,” Horton said.
“We’re going to meet early at our football field before we leave on Friday and have a walk-through.”
Hilliard said key for the Bulldogs on Friday is to tackle Sullivan, contain Apt and “make plays.” Offensively, the Bulldogs just want to block and move the ball on the ground.
The top two teams from each district move into the playoffs.
Anderson County and Fort Scott (4-3) are both 1-0 in District 6 play. Iola and Prairie View (4-3)  are 0-1.
“Our kids understand what they have to do to move into the playoffs,” Horton said.

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