After falling to Fort Scott in sectional play last year, the main focus of the Baldwin High football team is to avenge that 20-7 loss.
"I don't think of it as revenge," Baldwin coach Mike Berg said. "A lot of players were backups last year, and they're just looking forward to play. I see a lot of excitement."
When the two teams collide in the second round of the 4A playoffs at 7:30 tonight at Liston Stadium in Baldwin, both schools will field almost entirely new casts of characters from last season.
One of those characters -- junior quarterback Jeremy Wright for the Bulldogs (9-1) -- will be sidelined because of an ankle injury he sustained while running for 66 yards on the opening play of the Bulldogs' 28-6 first-round victory over Louisburg.
But the Baldwin faithful should have nothing to fear with Blake Wieden at the helm. The sophomore quarterback showed his composure against Louisburg when he threw three touchdowns.
"Blake came in and did a super job," Berg said. "We don't have to change our offense. He'd probably be starting on someone else's team, but right now he's the starter for our team, and he has the confidence of our team."
Widen also has the support of a stalwart offensive line of seniors Kyle Ruona, Justin Jones, Caleb Thomas and Matt Bowlin and juniors Eli Mitchell and Braxton Nottingham.
"We feel like they've done a great job all year, and they're the guys that are going to take us deeper into the playoffs," Berg said. "They have some bumps and bruises, but they're all back for this game."
That line should provide plenty of holes for Baldwin's offensive attack featuring two tailbacks, four fullbacks and two wide receivers.
Defensively, the Bulldogs recently have allowed just seven points per game.
"It's a tribute to our defense and how they never give up," Berg said.
Baldwin's defensive success largely comes from a healthy turnover margin. Secondary members Ricky Baker (five interceptions on the year) and Austin Inzer (four interceptions) have wreaked havoc on quarterbacks' statistics.
Fort Scott (10-0) throttled Parsons, 55-13, in the first round.
"They thrive off other teams' mistakes," Berg said.