Bulldogs hope to build off of last week’s triumph

Arkansas City High School senior outside linebacker Nicholas Bahm (34) grabs hold of Andover quarterback Christian Gonzalez as senior linebacker Jamauri Jordan (5) and sophomore Taviahn Mack (59) converge with 1:13 left in the first half last Friday at Bulldog Stadium. Bahm was credited with a 13-yard sack and forced fumble, though Andover recovered the ball.

The Arkansas City High School football team is coming off its first victory of the season, an emotional 9-6 triumph at home against Andover on Homecoming night.

The Bulldogs (1-5, 1-3 AV-CTL D-II) travel tonight to Valley Center in what could become another defensive battle.

Just when it appeared that Ark City’s brutal schedule might ease up just a tad, on come the Hornets (2-4, 1-3), fresh off a 31-14 victory at Goddard. 

Yes, that Goddard — the team that decimated the Bulldogs 48-0 in Week 2 at Bulldog Stadium.

The anomalies don’t end there.

That Andover team that the Ark City defense shut down last Friday was victorious 12-7 at home two weeks ago against these Hornets.

The only other common opponent was Maize South, a 27-19 winner against the Hornets at home in Week 3. The Mavericks beat Ark City 33-15 a week later on the road.

The victory last weekend against Goddard snapped the three-game skid for Valley Center.

The Hornets trailed 14-10 at halftime before coming back with three fourth-quarter touchdowns, one on defense.

Quarterback Kaleb Harden, who connected with Camryn Kaufman on a 56-yard touchdown pass in the second quarter, found Harden again for a 40-yard TD to open the fourth quarter.

Running back Marion Ponds broke free for a 55-yard touchdown run and linebacker Quentin Kirk returned an interception 40 yards to cap the scoring.

Valley Center amassed 343 yards of total offense against a team that shut out Ark City. Ponds finished with 178 rushing yards, while Harden was 11-of-18 passing for 175 yards, with no turnovers.

Despite their first victory last weekend, the Bulldogs continue to struggle moving the football on offense, especially in the running game.

Ark City was held to a net of two rushing yards against Andover, and was just 4 of 16 on third-down conversions.

Of their nine first downs, five of them were on passes from freshman quarterback Gabe Welch, who completed 13 of 33 passes for 139 yards, with no interceptions.

With the help of a nifty spin move, tailback Braiden Mattocks broke out a 20-yard run, the longest run for either team in the game. But Mattocks finished with only 29 yards on 18 carries.

Ark City’s defense was on its game, holding the Trojans to 113 total yards, including a scant 33 on the ground. Andover was 2 of 13 on third downs and 0 of 3 on fourth down.

The Bulldogs also intercepted Andover twice, forced and recovered a fumble, and blocked a punt after it was fumbled. However, the great field position resulted in three Tommy Pacheco field goals.

It’s not inconceivable that the Bulldogs would play host to a Week 9 playoff game — but the likelihood is minuscule. Four teams in the Class 4A West Regional are 1-5 and six teams are 2-4, but the Bulldogs sit 13th with a minus-44 point differential — third worst among those teams.

The top eight teams in the standings play host to the bottom eight in the Week 9 playoffs.

Ironically, if the season ended last Friday, the Bulldogs would play at arch rival Winfield in Week 9. The Vikings escaped with a 20-18 victory on a last-minute touchdown in the Cowley Cup game in Week 1 at Winfield.

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