The Dighton Hornets and the Otis-Bison Cougars have built up a small rivalry as of late, as each team has exchanged wins against each other over the past two season in district play.
Now the teams meet in the rubber match in Dighton Friday night, with a place in the eight-man, Division II semifinals on the line.
The Cougars enter the game at 8-1 and the Hornets at 8-2.
“It obviously will be a very tough task,” Dighton head coach Ken Simon said. “We’ll have to make sure we prepare very, very well this week.”
With just nine players on the eight-man team, Simon knows they will have to play hard as well as smart to pull out the win on Friday night.
“The big thing is, we can’t get worn down. With nine kids, we’re going to have to make sure to play extremely tough and play physical for four quarters,” he said.
Otis-Bison defeated the Pretty Prairie Bulldogs and the Hutchinson-Central Christian Cougars in the first two rounds of the playoffs on its way to Friday’s matchup against the Hornets.
The Cougars will look to reach the semifinals for the second straight year, while the Hornets reached the semifinals in 2016 on their way to a runner-up finish,
In the previous two matchups between the two teams, Otis-Bison won the 2017 matchup 54-8, while Dighton won the 2016 game, 36-30.
“They are very similar to what they were last year,” Simon said. “They like to run that quarterback.”
That’s quarterback Anton Foust, who has rushed for 1,113 yards and 20 touchdowns on 71 carries.
“They have a tremendous quarterback in Foust,” Simon said. “He’s a physical runner, and we’re going to have to tackle him well.
“He averages like 15 yards a carry and he had a terrific game this past Friday. He is, obviously, the priority for our defense to stop. We have a couple of different schemes in place to try and stop them.”
“We have to hold our own on the line of scrimmage because they are very physical up front,” Simon said. “If we can hold our own and not allow them to create those big running lanes for that quarterback, then all that will be in our favor.”
Dighton did have some early success in last season’s game stopping Foust, before turning his game around and thrashing the Hornets in the second half.
“First half of last year’s game we did a pretty decent job [stopping the quarterback run], and then in the second half we just let him run wild on us,” Simon said.
Otis-Bison’s explosive offense averages 52.2 points per game entering the game on Friday. Besides the 28-14 opening game loss to the Victoria Knights, the Cougars have not scored fewer than 40 points in any game this season.
The Hornets do boast a strong defense that can matchup against the Cougar offense. Dighton has only allowed 15.6 points per game, while recording four shutouts. But the best defense might be Dighton’s offense, which is averaging 45.2 points per game.
“I feel like our ability to be balanced on offense, definitely helps us,” Simon said. “They did give up some passing yards this past Friday against Hutch Central Christian. We’re gonna look to try and mix it up on them and hopefully we can keep them on their toes.”
Trying to exploit the Cougars through the air will be quarterback and senior Blair Hoffman, who has completed 95-of-136 passes for 1,369 yards and 33 touchdowns. The senior signal caller is also second on the team in rushing with 725 yards on 137 carries and 10 touchdowns.