The Emporia High football team will make their final road trip of the regular season this Friday when they return to Topeka to face Seaman in a Centennial League and District game.
The Spartans (1-4) just suffered their biggest loss of the season, which came at the hands of league foe 6A Washburn Rural 45-9 last Friday. The loss was a blow to a team that had just claimed their first victory in almost a year the week before.
Or at least it should have been. However, head coach Keaton Tuttle said he’s been impressed with the excitement the team has brought this week and that the Spartans are having some of their best practices of the year.
“Their energy is high this week,” he said. “They are excited. It almost feels like it’s the first week again. They fly everywhere. It has been a lot of fun this week.
Tuttle credited his leadership – guys like Bobby Trujillo, Kaden Woydziak, Fred Jackson, Jaden Thomas and Cam Geitz – with renewed vigor after a difficult previous week.
“They didn’t let the guys fall or slide or say, ‘Ah, we can just give up,'” Tuttle said. “They held the guys to account.”
The Spartans will look to use that energy in Friday’s showdown with the Vikings (3-2), who were led by Manhattan last week 48-21 and lost to Junction City 23-16 in overtime earlier this season. Their three wins came up against common opponents with Emporia, against which the Spartans went 1-2.
Tuttle said Seaman will be a lot like Emporia, both in the fact that he has players hitting both sides of the ball and in the way he organizes his attack and defense.
But he also said that despite his two losses, the Vikings will present a challenge.
“They are very good in defense and they are also good in attack,” he said. “… They have very good players. They have a few full backs who are very good, they have some linebackers who are very good.
Quarterback Camden Barta is Seaman’s offensive leader and has completed 51 of 86 passes this season for 1,032 yards, 12 touchdowns and three interceptions. He also carried the ball 31 times for 79 yards.
Three receivers have four touchdown receptions and at least 225 receiving yards in three games. Casen Stallbaumer had 23 receptions for 404 yards, PJ Vargas has 298 yards on 10 catches and Brody Gormley has 228 yards on eight catches.
However, Tuttle thinks his team compares very well to Seaman. The thing he highlighted for his players – both this week and all season – is that they need to put in a full effort from both sides of the ball for all four quarters.
“We have to slow down their blitz, we have to attack well and we have to execute offensively,” he said. “I think if we do these things it could be a really good night.”