For the Macksville High School football team, the challenge is simple on Saturday — stop Osborne’s running game.
The Mustangs host the Bulldogs in the second round of the Eight-Man Division-I state playoffs at 3 p.m.
Of course, stopping Osborne’s rushing attack might be easier said than done.
The Bulldogs have Damon Schurr, a 190-pound senior that has raced for 1,862 yards and 35 touchdowns this season — including a game against Word of Life in Wichita in which he carried the ball once for 20 yards.
He averages 186.2 yards per game.
“He’s 190 pounds and he’s really fast,” Macksville head coach Jeff Kuckelman said. “That kid has the size and speed that is a deadly combination.”
Schurr isn’t alone, either. Quarterback Ethan Slothower has rushed for 901 yards and 18 scores.
He has also completed 44 of 86 passes for 642 yards and nine TDs. He has thrown a pair of interceptions this season.
“We’re going to be trying different alignments,” Kuckelman said. “We need to close down the gaps. We’ve been talking about assignment responsibilities a lot. They run read options and speed options.
“It is hard to simulate that kind of speed in practice unless you have someone who is that fast, and if you did, he’d be playing.”
The Bulldogs are 9-1 with a Week 1 loss to Lakeside 32-26. Lakeside is 10-0 and will be facing Marmaton Valley on Saturday.
Kuckelman said that the Mustangs (10-0) are hoping that it will be a little more complicated to hold back its offense — with three playmakers on the eight-man field.
“That’s what we rely on,” Kuckelman said. “We’ve been very fortunate this year. We have a lot of kids that can play.”
Running back Adam Oak has been the leader for the prolific offense this season, leading in rushing yards (714), receiving yards (1,180) and receiving touchdowns (14).
In the last two games, Oak has been the focal point for the opposing team’s defense. He has been held to 63 rushing yards and 166 receiving yards over the last two weeks.
He managed a receiving touchdown and a rushing touchdown against Ness City in Tuesday’s first-round playoff game.
Macksville has quarterback Seth Filbert, who has rushed for a team-leading 12 touchdowns this season along with completing 153 of 225 passes for 2,244 yards and 30 touchdowns.
If teams focus Oak, Kuckelman said that allows sophomore playmaker Tanner Tranbarger to step up.
“Tanner’s made big plays all year long, but he’s really been able to do a lot with teams focusing on Adam lately,” Kuckelman said. “It’s big to have a sophomore play like that. Some kids shy away from things like that.
“I think midway through the season, he got sick. We had something hit most of the team in the middle of the season. I think he slowed down a bit, but he’s better now.”
Tanner Tranbarger, who is joined on the field by his older brother, senior Taylor Tranbarger, started the season with a break-out game. He caught five passes for 154 yards and three touchdowns against Victoria in a 34-32 win.
In the last two games, Tanner has scored four touchdowns and has recorded 220 receiving yards.