The Emporia High football team isn’t worried about the woes that its opposition will face when the Spartans take the field on Friday night.
It just needs to focus on the task directly in front of it — winning the game.
That’s something that teams facing Highland Park haven’t had many struggles with in recent memory. The Scots carry a 48-game losing streak into the contest dating back to 2014. Through four Centennial League games, HPHS has suffered an average margin of loss that surpasses 50 points.
The Spartans won their first three league battles, but found themselves overmatched by Manhattan a week ago.
“We’re going to have to make ourselves better this week,” EHS Head Coach Corby Milleson said. “Highland Park is a team that’s struggling. We’ve got more games ahead of us and ... as far as a rebound goes, I’m looking for great effort, a physical football game, setting the tone early and getting after it.
“We played toe-to-toe with them for three quarters, gave them a little bit early in the first and a team like Manhattan, you can’t spot them any points and be successful.”
For Friday’s game plan, Milleson doesn’t anticipate doing anything different than what his team’s have been working towards most of the season.
“We’re averaging six yards a carry against some of the best teams in the state,” he said. “If we can get some play-action pass(es) to go along with it and complement our run game, we’re going to be just fine. We’re not looking to throw the ball more than 10, 11 times a game anyhow. I firmly believe if we’re throwing the ball a whole lot, we’re probably in trouble. We’re going to run the football, we’re going to play great defense and we’re going to play great special teams.”
Seniors Beau Baumgardner and Skyler Douglas will carry most of the load, though junior Keagan Lee has been making his presence felt in practice, something Milleson intends to reward.
“We want to see physical running out of our running backs,” he said. “What we’re looking for are yards after contact. Beau is obviously our top back when it comes to that and Skyler (Douglas is) in the mix there, but so is Keagan Lee. Keagan’s had great practices and has come a long ways and so I look for all three of them to play on Friday.”
Kickoff between the Spartans and Scots is scheduled for 7 p.m. at Hummer Sports Park in Topeka.