Running game and turnovers paramount in local bragging rights game
There’s a pattern developing between Mid-Prairie and Washington — when these teams meet in the season opener, the Demons come out on top.
They have won the last three openers under head coach Randy Schrader.
Despite last year’s 30-0 shellacking, Schrader said his team didn’t play well.
“I don’t think the score was indicative of the contest,” he said. “If you look at the film from last year. I can’t believe we won the football game.”
Turnovers were crucial. Washington forced four interceptions, while quarterback Daryn Sebelius managed the game like a veteran. Senior Carl Sivels came up with a turnover.
“I don’t expect that to happen this week,” he said. “I think they probably have that all ironed out. I assume they have worked on ball security. They had some snap issues last year. Those are very fixable issues.”
Washington proved it could dominate on the ground and did not have to put the ball in the air very often.
The Golden Hawks — No. 5 in the state — were prone to giving up big plays in that contest. There were three touchdown carries of 29 yards or more.
Sebelius nearly matched his 54 passing yards with a 40-yard touchdown carry. He finished the game with 14 rushing attempts — two more than passing.
The running attack was very balanced. There were six carriers and four of them averaged at least 4.5 yards.
This year’s game could come down to the battle of the trenches.
“You can’t block people you are not going to win,” he said. “If you can’t stop people at the point of attack, you are not going to win football teams.”
Mid-Prairie senior Reid Miller bounced back from his turnovers in the opener to throw for 1,253 yards and had a quarterback rating of 123.1, last season.
“A dual-threat quarterback, he is a good athlete,” he said. “Reid Miller will be their go-to guy. As he goes they go.”
Senior running back Eesaa Baylor gained 1,022 yards last year and gives the Golden Hawks a viable one-two punch.
“They have a tailback coming back; he is a good player,” he said. “They have a couple returning offensive line players. They will be two-way players.”
Special teams could decide the game. Senior Austin Errthum had an accuracy of 63.6 percent on field goals, including a long of 58 yards, last year.
“They have an All-State kicker,” Schrader said. “If it comes down to a field goal, he is capable of kicking it through. All of his kickoffs were in the end zone last year. That is a great weapon in high school.”
Schrader said since last year’s playoff exit, Oct. 29, 2012, the team has been building emotions and working toward its first game of the season
“There is always that anticipation and excitement, because it is the opener and you put in a lot of work,” he said. “We talked about last night since that second round loss we have stayed focused. We have put time in the weight room and camps all summer.”
The squad took just one week off following the conclusion of last season. Schrader said he has done all he can. Now it’s up to the mindset of his players.
“You don’t know what your product is going to be like Friday night,” he said. “You hope everyone is where they need to be mentally, because physically you can’t run any more sprints, plays or lift weights.”
Washington travels to Mid-Prairie for a 7:30 p.m. kick off, Friday.