High School Football: Mustangs 42, Trojans 19
OSAWATOMIE — Iola football head coach David Daugharthy thought long and hard after last week’s blowout loss to a previously winless Anderson County team.
His team was 0-4 for the second straight year and was coming off a performance where they didn’t even look as if they belonged on the same turf as the host Bulldogs. Changes needed to be made and attitudes needed to be shifted in order to salvage the second half of the season.
“I reflected a lot over the weekend,” Daugharthy said. “And it was tough. Last weekend was tough and it was tough on the kids, too. So when we came in afterwards, I just challenged them to be as tough and as focused as they could possibly be.”
Daugharthy and his assistants got down to the bone of the problem and helped build the Mustangs (1-4, 1-1) back up to the point that they came out on Friday and grabbed their first win of the season, a 42-19 paddling at Osawatomie (0-5, 0-2).
“This is probably the best week of practice we’ve had since I’ve been here,” Daugharthy said. “The kids were laser-sharp focused. We scrapped a lot of what we were doing and our practice went back to basics. We focused on fundamentals like being physical and tackling and I think it showed tonight. They responded well.”
Iola was sharp on both ends of the ball, especially in the first half.
The Mustangs scored on four of their first five drives of the night and shut the Trojans out until late in the third quarter when the junior varsity had subbed in, up 42-0.
“I was really pleased with how we executed and our effort,” Daugharthy said. “Our game plans offensively and defensively were both really sound. But really what I was most pleased with was our defense. Our tackling was way better this week and we were flying around and being aggressive.”
Sophomore running back Isaac Badders was on a tear, racking up two touchdowns and several long runs including a 64-yard jaunt down the opponent’s sideline in the second quarter before getting stopped just outside the goal line at the Osawatomie 2-yard line.
“We were dominant up front tonight,” Daugharthy said. “I think that was a huge tell on both offense and defense. Offensively we were able to create gaps by our guys moving their guys around and when you can do that, you can run the ball.”
In addition to Badders, Zane Whitney found the end zone on the ground from 18 yards out and junior quarterback Casen Barker pounded it in from the 2.
It was also a landmark day for Barker through the air.
The junior threw for two touchdowns in the game making Friday the first time in his two-year varsity career that he’s thrown for multiple touchdowns in a game.
“I hope this boosts his confidence and he feels like he can throw well because in practice he’s shown massive strides in putting the ball where he needs to put it,” Daugharthy said. “I know he can do it and tonight he showed that he can. Hopefully, that can carry over to more clutch situations, too.”
Barker connected with senior Elijah Luedke for a 19-yard score in the first quarter and found a senior Kane Rogers wide-open from 20-yards out for a score in the third quarter.
Now their sights set to a Homecoming matchup with Burlington next week. The Wildcats are traditionally a tough team but have run into some struggles early on this year with big losses to both Olpe and Prairie View.
Daugharthy believes if his team can come out and play with the type of intensity that they showed Friday night, another win may not be out of the question.
“We can play with physicality and we can play with confidence,” Daugharthy said. “Tonight’s performance has been four weeks coming, we just haven’t put it all together at the right time and I feel like we that did tonight and I think we can do it again next week versus Burlington. We played a half against Chanute and they’re a pretty good football team and a half against Wellsville and they’re pretty good. I think we can put it together and play a full game versus Burlington.”