OSBORNE — Brandon Wise is a firm believer in the fact football games are won in the preparation teams put in through the days leading up.
The Osborne High School head football coach couldn’t have imagined a game plan working out much better than it did Friday night in the Eight-Man Division II state quarterfinals.
The week the Bulldogs put in led to a dominant performance against previously unbeaten Kiowa-South Barber.
The 54-8 win — called at halftime due to the mercy rule — pushes the Bulldogs into the sub-state championship game for the sixth time since 2010, one win away from making their third trip to a state title game in that span.
“The big thing was we had a great week of preparation,” said Wise, in his first year as the head coach after serving as the assistant. “Scout team gave us a great look all week.”
And that’s not an easy task against a South Barber team that blends in a lot of motion in its pass-heavy offense that had torched teams for nearly 58 points in a 9-0 start. That included a tie against Otis-Bison on Oct. 5 that was called off at halftime due to weather.
“Our starters, defensive guys, bought into our game plan and executed all week,” Wise said. “You win games Saturday through Thursday.”
Holding South Barber to just three first downs Friday night didn’t hurt either.
“We just worked hard all week,” said senior Kade Miller, who recorded eight tackles in the rout. “Just tried to basically come out, play hard and just stick to the game plan.”
Of course it helps when you catch a couple breaks — like the Bulldogs did on their opening drive.
The Osborne offense moved the ball well, but was helped out by a late hit against the Chieftans, and an offsides call on third down.
Just a little more than two minutes in, and freshman Mason Schurr put Osborne on the board with a 7-yard run. The defense dominated on South Barber’s first drive and just three minutes later, Osborne quarterback Darnell Holloway put the Bulldogs up 16-0.
“Our coaches gave us a really good game plan,” said Miller, who went on to catch four Holloway passes for 106 yards and two touchdowns as the classification’s third-highest scoring offense caught fire. “The put us in the best opportunity to win. We just had to execute.”
It became clear early South Barber was going to do little do slow the Bulldogs down. By the end of the first quarter, Osborne led 32-8, the only hiccup being a blown coverage that resulted in a 65-yard scoring connection from South Barber junior quarterback Trevor Rooks to sophomore end Emilio Perez.
The positive plays, though, for the Chieftans were few and far between.
“We just stayed glued on our guy and were assignment sound,” Wise said. “With all their formations and movement, they mess people up. They hit one against us by messing us up.”
But the combination of Miller, junior Darrien Holloway and senior nose Jordan Wherry — among others — kept Rooks moving all night as the Chieftans’ high-powered offense never could get rolling.
Osborne, meanwhile, put up 242 rushing yards — with 143 and two scores from Darrien Holloway – and scored the final touchdown with 1:53 to play in the second quarter. Darrien Holloway had 59 yards and two scores, while Schurr had five carries for 40 yards and a score. Schurr also recorded an interception that resulted in the mercy rule touchdown.
The Bulldogs will be at home for the third time in the playoffs as they play host to Dighton. The Hornets, which have just nine players, survived a thriller against Otis-Bison on Friday, scoring a late touchdown and grabbing an interception in the end zone in the closing seconds to win 44-36.
“Our confidence as the game went on tonight kept getting higher and higher,” said Miller, a sophomore on the Bulldogs’ title-winning team in 2016. “We just need to keep it rolling.”