The Junction City Blue Jays travel to Dodge City this week in the second round of the Class 6A football tournament bracket to take on the undefeated Dodge City Demons.
The Demons, 9-0, are the number two team in the 6A West behind the Derby Panthers. Both are the only teams that were undefeated in the regular season. Dodge City also knocked the Blue Jays out of the tournament last year when the boys in blue traveled there.
The fact that the Demons are the undefeated should be more motivating for the Blue Jays, coach Randall Zimmerman said.
“It should be all the motivation you would need to prepare the best you can prepare every snap,” he said. “We’ve got a great opportunity in front of us. They're good. They're very, very good; they're very disciplined. You can tell how they practice, you tell how they prepare, because that's what you see on film from Friday nights. We've got to continue to put a good week together and be ready to go.”
To prepare this week the Blue Jays had to be ready to go every snap of practice — mentally and physically, he said.
Last week against Wichita Southeast, the Blue Jays were taken off their game. Several personal fouls were called for actions after plays — on both sides of the ball — resulting in two ejections for the Golden Buffaloes. Zimmerman said it comes down to regaining that discipline he expects from his players.
“You just have to do it, the individual has to do it,” he said. “You have to do it, because the only person who can control is you. The only team that we control is us. We're all responsible for us first, and then we go from there.”
For the upperclassmen that played last year, the trip to Dodge City will be a familiar one. But, the experience will be different as both teams have changed their approach and their look on the field.
“They’re spread out there,” he said. “They’re balanced, pretty much 50/50 run, pass. Very, very good running back, very good quarterback, good offensive line, receivers that can really run there. They have no weakness whatsoever. We just have to be very disciplined.
“Defensively, (we’ve) got to be in position,” he added. “Our eyes have got to be right and just got to go get it. And then our offense against their defense, they are going to bring all kinds of pressure at us, we know that, You got tremendous athletes on the outside that are now playing pass coverage and playing the runs. They're good, they're just really good. There's no weaknesses that we can see whatsoever on this team.”
Zimmerman said in order to win the team cannot make mistakes and give the ball away.
“We've got a score we have opportunities to score,” he said. “We have to take care of the football for sure, we cannot turn it over to these guys. They do not need any extra help. And, we just need to go out play hard play for each other. We'll receive back what we give, that's the message all week long. The more you give the more you receive back.”
The team will leave in the early afternoon Friday for the 3 hour trip west. Kickoff is slated for 7 p.m. with the winner advancing to the next the round and the loser done for the season.