LOUISBURG Rematches are rare during a football season.
Yet today's Class 4A sub-state football contest will feature two teams familiar with each other. The Baldwin High School Bulldogs (10-2) will travel to take on the Louisburg Wildcats (12-0) for a shot at redemption for a midseason loss.
One difference - winner of tonight's game receives a berth into the 4A state title game Nov. 24 in Salina.
"Our players see this as a rematch," BHS coach Mike Berg said. "They respect Louisburg and what kind of team they have. I don't think it's going to be a lopsided game either way, unless a team comes out and makes a lot of mistakes."
The two Frontier League teams will meet for the second time in Louisburg this fall. Kickoff will be at 7 p.m.
The first game featured spurts by both teams, but in the end Louisburg made fewer mistakes and won, 31-20, on Sept. 28.
"We haven't made the mistakes that we did in that game," Berg said. "We had a lot of missed tackles and four turnovers, three of which were in a row."
The Bulldogs don't have to be reminded of their four turnovers in the first game.
"After watching film this week, coach Berg helped us realize what we can do when we don't make mistakes," junior Sam Beecher said. "We realize how good we can be if we all do our jobs and play to our potential."
Both teams enter tonight's contest after winning their 4A sectional games, but in drastically different styles.
Baldwin thumped Columbus, 56-22, at home Friday as it rushed for more than 370 yards. Beecher and senior Jared Hall combined for 61 carries. The Bulldogs were without senior Gabe Mason in the backfield, but Berg was proud of his two running backs.
"They had 60 carries between them," Berg said. "We've been running with three or four backs, so we had two guys carry the load. They did a super job. They ran as hard as they have all year. I was proud of them. They will be the first ones to tell you that it was the offensive line that helped them."
However, he knows Louisburg's defense will be much stingier than Columbus'. The Wildcats left perennial 4A powerhouse Holton with a 10-3 win last week. They scored a touchdown on a fumble recovery late in the game to clinch the victory.
"Their offense is great, but their offense didn't score a touchdown last week," Berg said. "Their defense held Holton to under 200 yards of offense. Their defense is darn good."
The last time BHS played in the state semifinals was 1988, when it beat Overland Park Aquinas to reach the state championship. Baldwin lost the title game to Scott City.
If the Bulldogs wish to reach the championship game again, Berg knows how they can do it.
"We just have to have a quick start like we did Friday night and take care of the ball," Berg said. "We need to control the clock, shorten the game and block like we did Friday night."