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Community Support
Otis-Bison's success lifts area
spt cp TrappPressure
Cheylin quarterback Caleb Keltz (12) throws the ball under the pressure of Otis-Bison defensive lineman Dominic Trapp (23) during Otis-Bisons 51-6 Eight-Man Division-II state playoff victory last Saturday at Bird City. - photo by Everett Royer Courtesy Photo

OTIS — For the past two years, the Otis-Bison High School football team has found itself in the Eight-Man Division-II state playoffs.
For the second straight year, the Cougars have advanced to the state playoffs boasting an unscathed record. This year, the Cougars are 10-0, and last season, they ended the regular season with a 9-0 mark.
In 2009, Otis-Bison went two-games deep into the playoffs, but were bumped from the bracket by Quivira Heights, which won 42-6.
The Thunderbirds went on to lose to Hanover, 66-36, in the state championship game. Hanover is among the final four teams in the hunt this season.
Prior to the ’09 season, the Cougars had a lackluster run under head coach Travis Starr. Otis-Bison made the second round of the state playoffs in 2002 and 2003 under previous head coach John Vincent.
“Coach Starr’s been here six years,” Otis-Bison athletic director Stan Ewy said of the team’s recent history. “His first few years were a little rocky. Now before that, when Coach Vincent was here, we had some success.
“Back when (current assistant) Coach Kyle Bahr was playing, they made it to regionals.”
The fans have responded to the Cougars’ success.
“It’s been great,” Starr said of the support. “You know, people who haven’t been to our games in a few years. You’ll see them come out from everywhere. Everybody comes and supports the team on Friday nights.”
Across town, orange and blue signs of support and windshield paint on the football players’ cars with positive messages can be seen.
“Something, too, that has been tremendous, is our parents,” Ewy said. “Before every away game, they fix the meals for the kids. They’re on the bandwagon, too.
“Right now, football’s been fun. It’s been a good ride.”
The fan support makes playing at home in the semifinal round of the state playoffs on Friday night a welcome prospect.
“It is huge,” Otis-Bison senior running back Michael Hlavaty said of the opportunity to play at home. “It goes back to the community. They are a big support for us.”
Everyone in town seems to know the history of the Cougars football team. Even the players, born in the early 1990s, know the last time Otis-Bison went to the state championship.
“The last team to go to sub-state was ’95,” Hlavaty said. “The last and only team to go to state was like ’81 or ’82, I think.”
The players grew up watching the high school team with the rest of the town. Players who have graduated come back and remain fans.
As is the case of Bahr, some former players come back to help coach the team.
“The kids that are playing now, I think they know what coach Bahr was like as a player,” Ewy said. “He was tough. He was a quarterback. He was the leader on the field and I think the kids remember that.”
Ewy said the Cougars’ success has great effect on the town.
“I think it brings us together,”  Ewy said. “I think every town has something to be proud of, but this gives us something.
“It’s exciting. This is something that we’ll all remember.”