Baldwin — When Baker and Benedictine have played football this season, the stakes have been high.
Baker played Benedictine here on Halloween, prevailing 33-20 to claim the Heart of America Conference co-championship with the Ravens.
Now Benedictine has a shot at redemption when it entertains the Wildcats in the quarterfinals of the NAIA Div. II playoffs on Saturday.
Kickoff is 1 p.m. at Amelia Earhart Stadium in Atchison.
"We have the advantage because we've already beaten them," Baker linebacker Scooter Fulton said. "There has to be some doubt in the back of their mind about beating us."
THE WILDCATS, 10-1 and ranked fifth in the NAIA Div. II final poll, advanced with a thrilling 21-20 come-from-behind victory over Northwestern of Iowa.
After facing Northwestern's aerial attack, Baker now has the chore of halting the NAIA's leading rusher, Don Brown.
Brown rushed for 1,838 yards, scored 14 touchdowns and broke Christian Okoye's NAIA record for yards per carry. While at Azuza Pacific, the Chiefs All-Pro fullback averaged 7.15 yards per carry. Brown averaged 7.18 for Benedictine.
"They have three plays that they have success with," Baker coach Charlie Richard said. "The most dangerous is the counter sweep. Brown averages more yards a carry on that play than anyone in the nation. We must stop him on that and the outside option."
However, the rest of the Raven backfield is potent also.
"YOU CAN'T concentrate on Brown because of their fullback (Steve) Torline and the little quarterback (Chris Tabor). Torline is very good and Tabor scrambles very well."
The Benedictine offense has become more lethal due to Tabor's improved passing.
"We respect (Tabor) because he passes more," Fulton said. "They've passed more since we played them and we've watched film where they passed a lot against Hastings."
Benedictine edged the Nebraska school, 17-15, to advance to Saturday's rematch with Baker.
The Ravens have added a wrinkle in their pass coverage as well.
"In our first game, they played with man coverage," Richard said. "Against Hastings, however, they played zone. We'll see a combination of both."
In the meantime, the return of cornerback Scott Catlin should improve Baker's pass defense.
"HE WAS leading the nation in interceptions before he hurt his knee," Richard said. "But he's ready to line up Saturday. He's as good a cornerback as anyone you'll find."
Injuries remain a concern to Richard, however.
"We've had (receiver) Gary Greenwood and (linebacker) Kelly Hockey out with strep throat and kicker Clint Thezan is banged up," the Baker coach said. "Hopefully, they'll be healthy, especially Thezan."