MOUNDRIDGE — The football season appeared to be getting away from the Moundridge Wildcats.
After losing a heart-breaker to arch-rival Inman in Week 5, the Wildcats were sitting at 0-5 and the playoffs were only a mirage.
But the Wildcats have turned things around in the second half of the season. They won three of their last four and then received some help.
That landed them a spot in the Class 2-1A playoffs, though their reward is a trip to Smith Center to take on the legendary Redmen, who have been one of the blue blood programs in Kansas for decades.
Kickoff is set for 7 p.m.
Given how the team started, first-year coach Jeremiah Meeks is happy it met its goal of making the postseason even when things looked bleak.
“It feels good to make the playoffs, the kids are excited for the opportunity” Meeks said. “They set making the playoffs as a goal at the start of the season.”
The Wildcats watched on Thursday and by the time the night was over, they were in. After Inman lost to Sedgwick on Thursday, Moundridge traveled on Friday for a non-district game at Prue, Okla., winning in a 41-0 rout to give it a positive vibe to take to Smith Center.
“The whole defense played well, we held them to 86 yards of total offense,” Meeks said. “We started a little slow in the first half, but played well in the second half. Dylan Sugars played a great game as he had over 200 yards on the ground. Parker Lange had two long TD catches.”
Smith Center will be unlike any team the Wildcats have played this year.
“They are a very good football team. They line up and wear you down on offense and you have to play assignment-sound football for four quarters,” Meeks said. “They will be the most physical team we have faced by far.”
But the Wildcats are in the best position they’ve been in all year.
“I definitely feel like we are playing the best ball of the season right now,” the former McPherson College assistant coach said. “Our offense has progressively gotten better throughout the year and I really like were we are at with our running game. Our passing game has been solid all year also, but it has really turned the corner towards the end of the season. Our defense has carried us all year and it has gotten better as kids have become more comfortable in their roles.”
The offense has nice balance as quarterback Anthony Otte has a couple of excellent targets in Lange and Noah Eichelberger, while Sugars pounds it out on the ground.
Smith Center is 7-2 on the season, losing to Plainville and Phillipsburg to start the year before ripping off seven wins in a row. It has given up only 21 points in the last five games.