When it comes to stress, Baldwin High football coach Mike Berg is just fine having he and his coaching staff absorb it all. Good thing, because the players aren't enduring any jitters.
"It's kind of nerve-racking," Berg said. "You want to make sure your team's prepared. The players are laid back, they're enjoying the moment, and the coaches are panicking."
Tonight, Baldwin (8-2) faces Kansas City Piper at Liston Stadium in Baldwin. Kickoff is set for 7 p.m. The game will be the third in nine days for each team. With Kansas Class 4A and 3A playoffs consisting of an extra game -- they have twice as many schools as 5A and 6A -- the schedule tightly packs the last district game and the first two playoff games to avoid playing into December.
Obviously, wear and tear would be a concern when playing so often. But Berg said his Bulldogs were relatively injury-free, and even more importantly, ready to play.
"We've really taken it easy this week physically," Berg said. "We're trying to get our legs back under us."
Good thing, because tonight's opponent might be Baldwin's toughest to date. K.C. Piper (9-1) brings an eight-game winning streak to Liston Stadium. The Pirates' only loss was a 22-19 setback Sept. 12 to De Soto. They've recorded wins over strong teams like Mill Valley and Tonganoxie since.
"They really look good," Berg said. "They execute very well on offense, and defensively, they're a very fundamentally sound team." Tonight's winner will face the winner of tonight's Fort Scott-Louisburg game Friday.