A lot is at stake for the Kansas and Colcord football teams meet up on Friday, Nov. 3, for what is now known as the South Delaware County Bowl, in Colcord.
The two teams - both in District 2A-7 - are not only playing for the trophy, and bragging rights, but also for the final district playoff spot.
The two teams come in with 4-5 records and 2-3 in their district. They both have lost to the three teams: Victory Christian, Holland Hall and Salina.
The two coaches are approaching the game in different ways.
These are the type of games that you look forward to playing and coaching in,” said Colcord Coach Curtis Waltman. “Obviously being that it against our rival Kansas, playing for the trophy, but more importantly playing for a playoff birth to continue our season adds up to a game that I know our kids will remember for the rest of our lives.
"The one thing I will stress to them this week is to enjoy the moment, cherish the experience you are about to have, but stay focused on what our goals are for this season, and that is to continue to play next week and make the playoffs.”
His counterpart in Kansas agrees.
“It is another game. That is how we are approaching it, “said Kansas Coach Jimmy Dushane. “We are not trying to caught up in the hoopla. It is just another game.
"It is exciting and the kids know what is on the line right now but as far as I am concerned. And I have told them that. It doesn’t matter what our record is it is another game we want to win."
For both teams, 2017 is a different scenario that in 2016.
A year ago the two teams had been eliminated from the possibility of making the playoffs. This year the winner moves on while the loser packs up the equipment until 2018.
A playoff spot would mean a continued season this year and momentum going into next year.
“It would be good in the sense to show hard much and how hard the kids have worked. I think it would possibly mean some kids that have thought about playing they may go ahead and come out,” Dushane said. “But mainly it would be a reward in how hard the kids have worked and all that they have done.”
Waltman agreed, saying stresses to his team to live day to day.
“[We tell them to] prepare the same way each week regardless of the opponent and what the following week means. Tomorrow is guaranteed to no one,” said Waltman. What I've stressed to our team is to cherish every moment we have together, because once the season ends we will never have a chance to be a team like this, practicing, playing and growing together.
"From a player’s perspective, obviously they are excited about the opportunity to make the playoffs and continue their season. It does give them extra motivation to focus this week in comparison to not having a chance to make the playoffs.”
Path to DelCo Bowl
For the players on both sidelines the game is also of importance.
“Being a senior this year. It could possibly be your last game,” said senior lineman Kade Moore. “Being there the last few years and losing some tough games to Colcord and seeing the trophy on the other side of the field you want to go get it for your team and school. It just want for Kansas to have the trophy and now the stakes are even higher whoever wins this game get to go to the playoffs and that would be very important for our team.”
“This game honestly means to me what it means to every single Colcord Hornet. We want to win and with it being Kansas it makes us work harder and push harder than any team you have seen,” said Colcord senior lineman Kody Long. “With this also being for a playoff spot. When we play for one another great things will happen.”
“It’s always a fun game when we play Colcord,” said Kansas’s junior running back Daris Glass. “Despite Colcord being our rival we do need to treat this game as any other game and go out do what we need to do. Winning this game and getting to go to the playoffs would be something Kansas hasn’t done in awhile. The idea of the playoffs will give us more motivation to work even harder.
“It means everything to play the Delco bowl, because there’s always a huge rival between us and Kansas. It’s a big game,” said Colcord senior running back/wide receiver Ryan Castleman. “It gives me a mentality to be great. That I have to play my hardest to win this game. I don’t want my high school football career to be over just yet, we all still have a lot in us. It changes the game for me dramatically. “
“I feel like this is gonna be a interesting game, we are playing very good right now,” said Kansas junior quarterback Keelan Davis. “We have a lot of momentum going into this game, so it should be a good one. The winning team gets to go playoffs it is gonna make us work even harder Friday night. I'm sure they will be just as hardworking as well. Knowing that we have a chance to make the playoffs is very exciting, considering the fact that we haven't been in awhile. It will be a big accomplishment for us, considering our record from last season.
“It means everything it's not just a rival game or a playoff spot it's everything my football career has been leading up to. This is a bug game anyway you look at it,” said Colcord senior quarterback Spencer Earp.
For both teams they have taken different paths to this point in the season. Kansas broke a 14 game winning streak early in the season that went back to 2015.
The four wins are the most since 2013 when the Comets won six games. It is one more win than the 2105-16 seasons combined. The new success is starting to show on the team.
“I think we are playing well in spots. We still have places we have to improve,” Dushane said. “Attitudes have changed. Kids are starting to believe they can win ballgames now. We take one game at a time.
"We try to make ourselves better in games that we can make our self-better in and take one game at a time. I think it is starting to pay off. And I think most of the kids know what we are trying to do and believe in what we are trying to do. That is pushing to be the best.”
“It feels like a complete 180 from last season. I feel like we are starting to click and play as a team again. We haven’t had that in a while. The past few seasons we have not wanted to play our roles. This team has not focused on who the spotlight is on but on the team,” Moore said.
“It feels great, we have really came together much better this year,” said Davis.
“It feels amazing to be playing as a team. We pray before and after each game despite the turnout of the game and play for each other rather than ourselves,” Glass said. “Last year was a pretty rough year. We had plenty of games that we should’ve won last year, but we stayed true to what our coaches wanted us to do and now we got a chance to go to the playoffs.
Colcord has also has some ups and downs this season also.
“I think every teams faces adversity throughout the season,” said Waltman. ”It's one of the main benefits and teaching points of playing football for out student athletes, that it prepares them for what life will be like, you will face challenges and adversity and how you respond to it will determine your success or failures.
"We are excited when we face adversity, because we know it is God challenging us and building character for us to prepare us for what is to come in our lives. Hopefully the adversity we have faced this year has made us better people and better football players and it'll show Friday night. “
For Colcord it will also be senior night. The last time some of the Hornets will play on their home field.
“Obviously as you near the end of year, you reflect on your time coaching and spending time with the senior class. This group really has come along way and their commitment this past year has been something that they should be proud of," Waltman said. "More importantly, their growth as young men has been truly an honor to watch. My hope is that the younger players can take the positives that they've learned from these young men and continue it into next year.
For the Colcord seniors it will be a game that they will always remember no matter the outcome because it is their last game.
“I know I'm going to look bad and think to myself why didn't I do this or do that or try to enjoy it a little more but I do everything I can to enjoy playing football even if it's my last game,” said Long.
“My feeling on playing on the Colcord football field one more time, is really sad, because when I first moved here it was rough. Then I started making friends and developing family with them. So playing on the field one last time will be an amazing memory,” Castleman said.
Both coaches have respect for the opposing team.
Kansas has gotten better and better each week this season and their playing their best football at the end. Their a physical, power running football team and that is something we haven’t seen this year so we will need to prepare for that. Defensively, they are very sound in how they defend you and make you earn every yard,” said Waltman.
“Colcord is a very good, experienced and talented team. They are well coached. It will be a good game,” said Dushane.
“Playing our arch rival for the last game is the best. Everyone comes out to watch. Which makes the game more intense. Everyone loves to see arch rivals battle it out for a playoff spot,” said Castleman.
“We are ecstatic for this game and hopefully we can get the job done,” said Glass.
Colcord owns the edge in wins over the last 20 years winning 16 of them. The last Kansas win came in 2012 with victories over Colcord coming in 2003, 204 and 2011.
Colcord senior night will begin at 6:30 p.m. with game time at 7 p.m.
How they got here
Colcord 27 Fairland 0
Afton 58 Colcord 26
Colcord 41 Westville 19
Adair 36 Colcord 20
Colcord 46 Chouteau 9
Victory Christian 63 Colcord 20
Salina 30 Colcord 14
Colcord 56 Ketchum 12
Holland Hall 48 Colcord 14
Oklahoma Union 14 Kansas 0
Kansas 42 Wyandotte 24
Westville 41 Kansas 34
Victory Christian 63 Kansas 13
Salina 42 Kansas 21
Kansas 15 Ketchum 0
Holland Hall 49 Kansas 0
Kansas 40 Chouteau 0
Kansas 35 Caney Valley 12
South Delaware County Bowl scores
2014 – Colcord 60 Kansas 0
2015 – Colcord – 53 Kansas 24
2016 – Colcord 45 Kansas 26