The Emporia High football team defensively imposed its will last week at Washburn Rural.
So the Spartans are hoping to do more of the same in their home opener Friday night when Topeka West will travel to Welch Stadium.
“The crowd in Topeka was phenomenal (but) it’s going to be awesome to play at Welch, in front of the home crowd,” senior lineman Riley Wagner said. “I’m just ready for everybody to come there and support and hopefully we can get a win.”
The Chargers fell to Hayden, 55-8, in their season opener, though E-High head coach Corby Milleson was wary of a number of things.
“Topeka West gives us a unique challenge in a quarterback that can really, really run,” he said. “They’re a team that continually gets better, they remind me kind of where we were at five, six years ago when I came here. They’ve got some talented athletes, they’re just not quite sure if they trust each other ... the way it looks on film. We’ve got to prepare well or they ... definitely have the talent to beat us.”
EHS enters the meeting riding the high of a 17-6 win over the Junior Blues in which case the Spartans dominated the line of scrimmage.
“We can’t read statlines when we talk about how we build off it,” Milleson said. “You’re not going to hold many teams to negative-nine yards rushing. It’s unrealistic. I think what we need to focus on is what the scoreboard says. They had six (points) this week. Ideally, we want to keep teams under 14. That’s where the goal’s at. We feel like if we can keep (them) under 12, 14 points, we’ve got a chance to win a lot of ballgames.”
The practices have gone smoothly, Milleson said, in getting ready for week two on the schedule.
“It’s easier to practice on Monday when you’re 1-0,” he said. “You get great effort out of these kids all the time. They’re a good team, they know they’re a good team and we expected to perform well. Being 1-0 is not a tremendous surprise, but I think our best things are ahead of us with a little more effort out of all our guys.”
That effort, on both sides of the ball, will help decide how things will go against the Chargers.
“As a defensive unit, we feel strong with nine, ten starters coming back (this year),” Wagner said. “We feel solid on that side of the ball, so to do what we did felt good but it’s just a thing that happened. We’ve got to prove we’re that type of team every week, so we’ve got to go out there and keep doing it.”
Right now, you’re always trying to get one percent better, so we’re just trying to ... build off that and get better every week.”
So the Spartans eagerly await their opener, which is also deemed “blackout night” as E-High fans are encouraged to wear their dark colors.
“It’s the blackout game, that’s a big deal for us,” Milleson said. “It’s as big a deal as Homecoming and Senior Night. We know our fans will come out and support them and it’ll be loud and it’ll be raucous. We’re definitely excited for that.”
Kickoff from Jones Field at Welch Stadium is scheduled for 7 p.m. Friday.