Victoria remains in strong contention for playoffs
Published on -10/10/2012, 10:28 AM
By CONOR NICHOLL
OTIS -- Victoria High School football coach Doug Oberle said his team's pulse "wasn't good" after last Friday's 44-12 road loss to Otis-Bison, ranked No. 5 in Eight-Man Division II in the statewide media poll. The Knights were outrushed 290-137 by the Cougars' physical offensive attack.
The loss dropped Victoria to 3-3, 1-1 in District 7 and moved the Knights into a four-way tie for second place. Otis-Bison is in firm control of the district at 5-1, 2-0. However, while the Knights have some struggles, things are likely to change for the positive in several ways starting Friday.
"We still hold our own destiny in our hands," Oberle said.
Thus far, the Knights have played the most difficult strength of schedule in the classification, according to preppowerindex.com. That will change.
Victoria remains in strong contention for its 11th consecutive playoff berth, the longest current streak among eight-man teams. Victoria just needs to beat Dighton, Ransom-Western Plains and Wilson -- all 2-4 this season -- and will qualify for the playoffs. Victoria has Dighton and Western Plains at home followed by a road contest versus Wilson.
As well, senior running back/linebacker Dalton Dreiling will return Friday from a knee injury he suffered in the first week of the season. Dreiling rushed for 1,185 yards last year and is entering his third season as a starter.
Oberle knows the Knights can make some improvements throughout the week. Victoria had five fumbles (one lost) and an interception against Otis-Bison. The Knights' three losses have come against teams that are currently 16-2. But the losses are by an average margin of 28 points.
"We've just got to do the little things," Oberle said. "I thought in the first half, we had some mental mistakes. We are snapping the ball, and we are not ready. We are running plays where they are not designed to go, and again, at the end of the day, that's my fault. I've got to do a better job. Hopefully we can correct these things."
Urban stepping up
Junior quarterback/safety Kole Urban continues to play at a high level for Otis-Bison, especially defensively. Urban collected 10 tackles, one off the team lead, and an intercepted a pass on a nice play in the end zone last Friday. This week, Otis-Bison will play at Western Plains. The Cougars still haven't lost a district contest since 2008.
"Every time I turn around, he is making a tackle or intercepting a ball," Otis-Bison senior lineman Sam Higgason said. "He has done a great job on fumble recoveries and interceptions all year."
Urban leads the team with 53 tackles, six passes defended, two interceptions and two fumble recoveries. Otis-Bison already has 11 turnovers forced in six contests. Last year, the Cougars recorded 15 forced turnovers in a 10-2 season.
"Their safeties played us well and covered us well," Oberle said.
Special teams improving
Otis-Bison coach Travis Starr wasn't pleased with his team's special teams play, especially on kickoff returns, in the first five weeks.
"Special teams have been a killer for us," Starr said.
Freshman Nick Higgason has taken over kicking duties and delivered three touchbacks in 34 attempts. Last week, Higgason had a touchback late in the game, and Starr congratulated the kicker as he came off the field.
"We had some kids step up in a big way tonight," Starr said.
Otis-Bison didn't allow any long returns all game. The previous week versus Dighton, Otis-Bison permitted 179 yards on kickoff returns, including a 66-yarder.