By BRETT MARSHALL
When the Ingalls Bulldogs knocked off traditional Santa Fe Trail League power Moscow, 32-30, in overtime on Sept. 18, little did first-year coach Roger Thurlow realize it wouldn't be until two weeks later that he would be able to see his team perform on the football field again.
After snapping a 15-game losing streak covering parts of three seasons, including 0-9 in 2008, the Bulldogs pulled off one of the big surprises of the 2009 area football campaign with their upset of the Wildcats.
However, 12 of the 17 members of the Bulldog team were stricken with the flu last week, forcing Ingalls to contact Ashland and cancel the game. There was no forfeit since it was just a regular season contest, but nonetheless the delay in playing again was simply a frustration for Thurlow and his team after their stirring triumph.
"The kids were disappointed not to go to Ashland," Thurlow said. "We had maybe eight players who could have played and they wanted to, but we didn't think it was the right thing to do for them."
Thus, it will be Friday night in a SFTL contest against rival Deerfield when the Bulldogs can see if their new-found confidence in winning will take hold.
"The win (over Moscow) was a culmination of what these kids have been doing since early in the summer," Thurlow said. "We've had good leadership and for the most part we could've won the game against Fowler, too."
The rally in the fourth quarter and then the overtime triumph sent a sudden excitement into the small school.
"It's one of the most exciting games I've ever been around," said Steve Johnson, Ingalls principal and former football coach at Syracuse and Holcomb.
With many of his players still recovering, Thurlow has not had a full squad for practice this week and knows that regaining that momentum will be a difficult task.
"We've lost some conditioning and we won't know until we step back on the field," Thurlow said. "I don't want them to forget how tough they have to be to win a game. That's what I really liked about the way we played against Moscow."
Ingalls' rushing game is paced by Cimarron transfer sophomore Chance David, who averages about 130 yards per game while Matt Schneider gained 129 yards and scored two touchdowns in the victory over Moscow.
"Defensively, we've been up and down at times," Thurlow said. "But our season is far from over. I don't want them to think that one win is enough. We want to make the playoffs."
For Deerfield coach Randy Richter, the 2009 season has been an adventure. The Spartans went through the 2008 slate unbeaten and went two rounds into the state 8-man Division I playoffs but graduated almost their entire starting lineup.
Ivan Robles has been the offensive workhorse for the Spartans, rushing for 583 yards and seven touchdowns in helping Deerfield to a 2-2 mark thus far.
"We had planned on Ivan to be the line of attack for us," Richter said. "We knew he would be the pony we would ride."
An opening win over Bucklin was followed by losses to state power Sharon Springs and Argonia. The Spartans got back on the winning track with a 58-40 victory over Moscow last Friday.
"It's been a different situation with so many new players," Richter said. "We knew that going into the season the kids would be baptized by fire and have to learn on the fly. But they've stepped up and are making plays and realizing that the game is faster and quicker and they've got to read things and now they are understanding that."
Richter said that Thurlow has the Bulldogs playing well and that the 'Dogs run some formations familiar to the Spartans.
"It will be interesting to see how they play with similar formations," Richter said. "We're banged up a little since Week 2 against Sharon Springs. But that's nothing unusual. I'm sure everybody is that way to some degree."
Kickoff at Ingalls High School field is 7 p.m.
Friday's Area Prep Schedule
7 p.m. — GCHS at Liberal; Syracuse at Sublette; So. Central at Moscow; Ness/Dighton at Wichita Co.; Ulysses at Holcomb; Cimarron at Hugoton; Lakin at Stanton Co.; SW Heights at Satanta; Meade at Elkhart; Greeley Co. at Rolla; So. Gray at Minneola; Western Plains at Triplains/Brewster; Deerfield at Ingalls; 7:30 p.m. — Larned at Scott City.