Osborne playing well on the line
By CONOR NICHOLL
OSBORNE -- Osborne High School football coach Steve Tiernan was asked about the Bulldogs' ability to fire off the ball well and stay low on blocks in Friday's 54-8 home victory against Downs-Lakeside. Tiernan turned to senior lineman Collin Berkley after the question.
"If I have a quarter, Berk, for every time I said, 'Stay low,' would I be rich?" Tiernan asked.
"Yes," Berkley said.
The Bulldogs, ranked No. 2 in the Eight-Man Division I statewide media poll, have arguably the classification's most talented skill players. However, it's been the health and improvement of the lines that also have helped Osborne open 3-0, 1-0 district and be on the short list of early favorites for a state championship.
"We take pride in that," Tiernan said. "We are not always going to be the bigger, faster, stronger team. A lot of times in football, the team with the most leverage, the team that is the lowest is going to win that battle. You might not win every battle, but if you win more of those battles each play than you lose, then you may win the game."
Berkley started as a sophomore, but suffered season-ending injuries in the Homecoming game the last two seasons that also forced him to miss basketball. Osborne has outscored opponents 182-62 and had possibly the best defensive showing in Tiernan's three years Friday. Lakeside had just two first downs. This year, the Bulldogs have averaged 9.9 yards per play, eight yards a carry, 253 rushing yards and 364 total yards.
Osborne's offense averaged six yards a play, rushed for 5.9 yards per carry, 258 rushing yards per game and 394 yards of total offense in 2012.
"Our line is doing great this year," senior Maverick LeRock said. "Real proud of them. We have gotten a lot better from last year to this year and that is helping our offense a lot, too. Can't go anywhere if you've don't got a line."
Berkley leads the team with three tackles for loss. Overall, Osborne has eight tackles for loss and two sacks. Last season, the Bulldogs had nine tackles for loss and six sacks in a 6-3 season.
"It really stinks getting injured," Berkley said. "I am just glad to be on the field this year."
"Hopefully we can hang onto him," Tiernan said.
Senior Joel Simon and junior Shane Hendrickson have played well up front, too. As well, LeRock has become a dominant nose guard. Simon mainly plays on offense, while LeRock is also one of the team's running backs.
"We are more aggressive this year," Berkley said. "It really helps. Me and Joel, we've played side by side since seventh grade, and we kind of know each other and know what we are going to do. Shane is coming along real good."
Playing in blowouts
Tiernan built Baileyville-B&B into one of Kansas' all-time best eight-man programs before he came to Osborne. On Friday, Tiernan had to straddle the line between making sure his starters played enough and not running up the score. Osborne led 46-0 after the first quarter. Senior running back Kenton Ubelaker rushed for 103 yards and three scores and was never tackled offensively. Sophomore quarterback Jake Tiernan never threw a pass. It marked just the third time in three seasons Osborne had a game end at halftime - the previous two came versus Stockton. Osborne moved to 3-1 against rival Lakeside since it moved to the eight-man ranks four years ago.
"I think it is kind of hard," Berkley said. "Sometimes you really want to get out there, especially since Downs is such a big rival. We would like to get out there and play with them. It's good to see the freshmen or sophomores get to go out there and play. We were all locked in and ready to go when the game came."
Late in the contest, Ubelaker wanted to go back in - if even for one play. When he didn't, Ubelaker ran a few sprints down the sideline a few minutes before the game ended by the 45-point mercy rule at halftime.
"It's a good problem to have and it's not been a problem here," coach Tiernan said.
"It really hasn't been. We've had a lot of games that are really going to go the distance regardless, but generally, from past experience, we are going to play the starters the first quarter regardless. We are not even going to look at the scoreboard. You are playing the first quarter."