Garden Plain doesn't want to think about its 29-14 loss to Conway Springs on Sept. 24. There were too many mistakes, too many penalties and too much of Conway Springs running back Cory Misak.
Garden Plain coach Todd Puetz said his team learned from that game and looks to have a different outcome now that the season is on the line in Saturday's Class 3A second-round playoff game at Conway Springs.
"If we just fix the penalties and special teams plays, then that can change whole outcome of the game," Garden Plain's Brenden Kerschen said. "If we don't have the mistakes that we did, it could definitely help us. If we just play the way we normally play ball, then it should be a good game."
The Owls had drive-ending penalties and special-teams miscues lead to nine Conway Springs points, but Kerschen knows Garden Plain must maintain Misak in order to stay competitive. He ran for 173 yards and two touchdowns in the team's last meeting.
"He's a pretty fast guy, and he's a good athlete. Defensively we just need to swarm to the ball," Kerschen said. "All 11 guys just need to flow to the ball wherever he goes and track him down. We have to have better flow on defense."
Striving for perfection — It's been an up-and-down season for Derby, which plays at Manhattan (9-0) at 7 tonight in the first round of the Class 6A playoffs.
There's been glimpses of brilliance, such as when quarterback Tyler Harrison had 303 passing yards against Heights.
There's been down moments, such as when Derby lost to Hutchinson 42-14, a game that ended at the half because of inclement weather.
"We've had our good and bad days," Clark said, "but our effort is always there. That's what we talk about — perfect effort. We can control our effort, every practice, every game, every time we're in the weight room."
Much of the season has involved moving players around, trying to find who fits best where.
While the offense has averaged 31.6 points, the defense has struggled. A few bright spots include Dillon Call and Terrance Burns, who each have 109 tackles.
"We have a very young defense, with only a couple seniors on the team," Clark said. "The scores may not show it, but they are getting better."
A record offense — Heights set a City League record with its 4,616 yards of offense, an average of 512.9 yards. The previous record was Bishop Carroll's 3,849 yards in 2008.
"I think we anticipated that we'd be pretty good, but I didn't know what the record was," Heights coach Rick Wheeler said. "It wasn't something I had paid attention to. We had some pretty good offenses in the past."
Heights, which passed for 481 yards this season, has the league's top two rushers in Dreamius Smith (1,059 yards) and Daniel Deshazer (978), who have a combined 41 touchdowns. Quarterback Matt Reed (658 yards) and Marquel Moore (463) are also in the league's top 10.
Heights' defense hasn't been too shabby, either. Up until its final game of the regular season against Derby, it had the league's top defense. It finished second behind Carroll, allowing 191.4 yards.
Turnaround for Andover Central — Andover Central coach Tom Audley admitted that there was much for his team to improve on after a 46-7 loss to McPherson on Sept. 17. The Jaguars (7-2) will get a shot at redemption Friday night at McPherson (8-1) in a Class 5A first-round game.
Audley said the speed of McPherson's game caught his team off guard the first time around. But his team has made enough strides since the beginning of the season that that speed and the small penalties that hurt them in the first meeting should be compensated for by game experience.
He said that both teams will have made the necessary adjustments.
"We're in the playoffs. There are 16 teams in 5A that have already packed their stuff up," Audley said. "Our goal from the start was to improve every week and get the best out of our kids."