The Otis-Bison High School football team will be heading into the third round of the Eight-Man Division-II state playoffs on Friday night for the second year in a row.
The Cougars host Thunder Ridge at 7.
Otis-Bison head coach Travis Starr said that all of the familiarity will be helpful.
“I think even though some of the kids may not have started last year, they will be less nervous,” Starr said. “They won’t be as nervous as they would’ve been if it was their first time.”
Last year, the Cougars hosted Ashland in the third round of the playoffs. They won 26-14 to earn a state championship berth.
The Cougars’ playoff experience goes back even further. Two years ago, they went into the second round of the playoffs before losing to Quivira Heights 42-6.
All three years under Starr’s watch.
“I think a lot of these kids have a lot of experience over the last two years,” Starr said. “This is the third year in a row that we’ve been in the playoffs.”
With the repeated success comes added expectations for the Cougars.
“This year, the expectations are higher, which I think is a good thing,” Starr said. “The bar has been raised for these kids. When you are 1-8 or 2-7, it is hard to get these kids to work, you know. What’s the point? But if they see that they can get into the playoffs and go far in the playoffs, the kids are more motivated to put in that extra effort.”
The Cougars have seven seniors — Patrick Piper, Trevor Keller, Matt Crotinger, Brandon Pechanec, Zach Stejskal, Dominic Manley and Devon King. Each senior has started for at least two years and have experience two years of experience in the playoffs.
“It helps out a great deal,” Starr said. “They make adjustments very well. With a young team, you make some adjustments, and it takes them a while. With the older kids, you can make those adjustments on the fly. They’ve seen everything before. They know what’s expected of them, and they know what they can do.”
On Friday night, Otis-Bison will face the only team to beat them in regular season over the last two years,
“We’re the underdogs,” Starr said. “If you check the standings, the poll and our records, they’re ahead of us. We’re going to have to play a heck of a game to beat them. We just have to prepare the same way all week long. These kids know what they’re capable of.”
Unlike during the regular season, Otis-Bison will be facing the Longhorns at home.
“We’ll have a lot of fans out,” Starr said. “It is nice anytime you can do the things that you are used to. When you can dress in your own locker rooms and take the field on the same side, it is nice. There is a comfort in that.”
State football playoffs
All Games 7 p.m.
SM West (7-3) at Olathe East (8-2)
Olathe South (9-1) at SM East (6-4)
Garden City (7-2) at Wichita Heights (10-0)
Manhattan (10-0) at Derby (7-3)
Blue Valley (9-1) at Bishop Miege (9-1)
Shawnee Heights (5-5) at Gardner-Edgerton (7-3)
Emporia (7-3) at Bishop Carroll (9-1)
Kapaun-Mount Carmel (8-2) at Hutchinson (8-2)
Blue Valley Southwest (6-5) at Paola (10-1)
Eudora (10-1) at Chanyte (8-3)
Topeka-Hayden (10-1) at Buhler (11-0)
Rose Hill (10-1) at Ulysses (10-1)
Caney Valley (11-0) at St. George-Rock Creek (8-3)
Silver Lake (10-1) at Galena (8-3)
Beloit (9-2) at Garden Plain (10-1)
Saturday — Scott City (11-0) at Conway Springs (10-1)
Pittsburg Colgan (10-0) at Doniphan West (9-1)
Riverside (9-1) at Centralia (7-3)
Plainville (9-1) at Stanton County (9-1)
LaCrosse (10-0) at Meade (10-0)
Lakeside (11-0) at Madison (11-0)
Montezuma-South Gray (10-0) at Osborne (10-1)
Thunder Ridge (11-0) at Otis-Bison (10-1)
Saturday — Baileyville B&B (10-0) at South Haven (11-1)