Baldwin Now Baker's football team can begin thinking about Missouri Valley.
In accordance with the Wildcats' slogan, "Win One At a Time in '89," looking ahead before Saturday's 62-32 victory over Tarkio would have been expressly forbidden.
The 'Cats can now legitimately anticipate this Saturday's matchup at Marshall, Mo., which likely will decide the Heart of America Conference championship.
"We're going to have to work hard this week," said Baker split end Leonard Jenkins, who had seven receptions for a career-high 198 yards against Tarkio. "If we play as well as we're capable of, we have a good chance of winning. They're pretty good, and if we make mistakes they'll capitalize."
Baker, 6-0 overall and 4-0 in the Heart of America, ranks third in NAIA Division II. Missouri Valley, ranked sixth, is 6-1 and 4-0. The Vikings trounced William Jewell, 49-3, Saturday in Liberty, Mo.
"Next week is the time for our offense and defense to gel together," said flanker Derrick Watts, who saw limited playing time because of an ankle injury. "It seems like our defense picks us up one week and our offense the next week. I have a feeling we're coming together at the right time."
AGAINST TARKIO (1-5-1, 1-2-1), Baker had its most productive offensive showing. The Wildcats, ranked third nationally in total offense, ripped the Owls' young defense for 31 first downs and 647 total yards. Baker scored on 10 of 12 possessions before coach Charlie Richard cleared the bench in the fourth quarter.
Junior quarterback Pat Richard threw for a season-high 238 yards, hooking up with split end Jenkins on 7 of 12 completions.
"Mostly, it was because Pat's passes were there," Jenkins said of his big game. "I would turn around and the ball was in the air. With the line blocking, Pat was able to get as much time as he needed."
Charlie Richard said Jenkins had the most catches and reception yardage in a Baker game since in 1981.
Balance was the key to Baker's offense. Fullback Brad Blackwell rushed for 206 yards and tailback Mark Green added 116 of the 'Cats' 409 rushing yards.
"We really beat them with power football up front," Wildcat offensive coordinator Dan Harris said. "We were able to complement that with the pass. Pat threw the quick pass really well and Leonard had a great ballgame."
BAKER PUSHED to a 45-12 halftime lead behind Blackwell's three touchdowns. Tarkio, recovered to outscore the Wildcats 20-17 in the second half.
"We knew we had to score a couple more touchdowns in the second half or they would keep coming all the way back," Jenkins said.
But Baker forced four Owl turnovers, including three interceptions.
"We had to keep getting turnovers to keep from putting their offense back on the field," Richard said. "I was impressed that we kept our intensity the whole game. We've had games where we didn't."
Baker's goal in practice this week is making sure its intensity doesn't wane against Missouri Valley.
"Its that time of year when you've got to line up and play," Richard said. "They're a tremendous football team. There are certainly no weaknesses there that I see."