Something to prove: Otter Tail Central looks to show they belong in section title gamePublished 10:34am Thursday, October 31, 2013
Last Saturday’s 22-19 victory over the Breckenridge Cowboys meant more than just a trip to the Section 6AA Championship for the Otter Tail Central Bulldogs — it meant that they belonged.
Despite a 8-1 record, the Bulldogs had, in the eyes of some, benefited from a weak schedule in the Prairie South Conference. Two sixty-point games and five shutouts couldn’t shake doubters.
But Saturday changed some minds.
Scoring 22 points in the first half and holding the higher-seeded Cowboys to only one touchdown, the Bulldogs surprised Breckenridge by controlling the game early and, flexing its defensive muscle, holding off a second half comeback.
Head coach Don Seipkes, could see that his team had something to prove as they put in their best effort against the Cowboys.
“I do think the kids have a little bit of a chip on their shoulder,” Seipkes said. “I think we’ve come to the playoffs and we are a little bit more hungry and ready to play. We’re ready to play football and I think we did show that.”
The Bulldogs face a different challenge, however, in Friday’s Section 6AA Championship. It meets #5 (AA) Holdingford, an undefeated team considered the game’s favorite. Up against a ranked opponent, Seipkes will use all of his 41 years of coaching as he prepares OTC to show that they belong among the toughest teams in the state.
“We can’t stand back and wait for Holdingford to come at us,” Seipkes said. “We have to go at them if we want a chance to play because Holdingford is an excellent football team.”
Physicality will play an important role Friday, as it has all year. Controlling the line offensively and defensively has created so much of the Bulldog’s success. On defensive, it has helped the team make its case as a contender all year long.
After giving up 37 points to Barnesville in the season opener, OTC only allowed two touchdowns for the rest of the regular season. Rolling on the offensive side as well, the Bulldogs have outscored opponents 404-58 in its 10 games this year.
“We were ready to go (against Breckenridge). We wanted the win and we wanted it bad. I think that was the difference,” Bulldog defensive end Tyler Ukkelberg said. “I think they might have been listening to the stuff they had been hearing (about us). We just came out firing harder and wanted it more.”
To earn the upset Friday, the Bulldogs have to surprise Holdingford in the same way.
“Showing we could only allow 19 points against Breckenridge, I think we can do the same against Holdingford,” defensive end Kaleb Thalmann said. “They run so much more stuff than anyone else and their quarterback has been starting for four years. We just have to know what they’re in and take care of him.”
On the bright turf of the Fargodome, stands filled with fans, the atmosphere will be set for the Bulldogs to show all that they can do. For Seipkes, OTC has proven as much to themselves by making it to the highest local stage, a goal they carry into every season.
“We played our last regular season game there, but if you don’t have that opportunity you have to make the section championship,” Seipkes said. “Playing in the Fargodome is always special. It means a lot to them and is always one of our goals at the beginning of the season.”
The Bulldogs kick off at 5:30 p.m. on Friday against the Huskers.