It’ll be back to basics for the Burwell defense in Monday’s Class D-1 playoff semifinal meeting against Dundy County-Stratton.
After stopping Cambridge’s high-scoring spread passing attack a few key times in a 71-48 quarterfinal win, now the Longhorns will go to the other extreme and try to slow down a powerful rushing attack.
“For us, we’ve seen a couple of offenses that play kind of like this,” Burwell coach Luke Gideon said. “It’s nice not to face a spread offense. We can get back into our base defense where we’re more comfortable instead of trying to cover a team that spreads you out all over the field.
“I think it’ll be a good thing for us, but they will be a challenge.”
The Tigers (11-1) average 323 yards rushing and only 31 yards passing. Their only loss came to Cambridge, but they are coming off a win over Arcadia-Loup City, one of the two teams to defeat Burwell (10-2).
Sophomore quarterback Quade Myers has rushed for 1,550 yards and 25 touchdowns while junior running back Serbando Diaz has 1,349 yards and also has 25 scores.
“Their quarterback and running back have most of their touchdowns and yards,” Gideon said. “We’ll have to be ready for the challenge. They like to get outside, but they can also run it up the gut.”
Burwell ran it up the gut and outside against Cambridge to the tune of 415 yards on 55 carries with only five pass attempts. But a more balanced offensive effort may be in the works against Dundy County-Stratton when the game kicks off at 5 p.m. in Burwell.
“If we need to throw the football, we’re not afraid to do that,” Gideon said.
“It’s going to be nice weather, and our quarterback Barak Birch has thrown for over 1,000 yards and touchdowns to six different receivers. He’s elusive, too.”
This is the meeting of the No. 5 seed (Burwell) and No. 7 seed (DCS) in the west bracket to go along with the east bracket final of No. 4 seed Osceola/High Plains and No. 7 seed Cross County.
Gideon said the final four is a group of teams playing their best football of the season.
“For us, we had a really tough schedule all year long,” he said. “We played some really good teams, and we lost to a couple of them. But that showed us our weaknesses, and we knew what we had to work on after our couple of losses.”
While the Longhorns only returned three starters from last year’s D-1 runner-up team, this year’s group has seen what it takes to win in this type of game. That can only help as Burwell tries to advance to its fourth state championship game in five seasons.
“We’re really confident right now,” Gideon said. “We’re confident in each other and what we do. We’ve been here before whether they played in it or watched it from the sidelines. It should be a great game on Monday.”