A few weeks ago, the Dodge City Red Demons football team faced a choice: It could either end the season poorly and play a road playoff game, or it could clean up its play a little bit and see what happened.
Friday’s Week 9 home game against the Junction City Bluejays, which starts the State Playoffs for both teams, is an indication of what the team apparently chose.
The Red Demons finished off the regular season Friday night with a 31-6 win at Liberal, their third straight after starting the season 2-3 overall.
Junior quarterback Beau Foster went 15/22 passing, with 230 yards, two touchdowns and no interceptions. Senior running back Jaiel Johnson ran for 100 yards and a touchdown on 19 attempts, and both junior De Jon Delgado and sophomore Matt Friess each caught a touchdown.
Defensively, senior Evan Darville led the team with nine tackles. Junior Tommy Bermudez and junior Josh Harshberger each had a tackle for loss.
The win, and help from other teams, allowed the Red Demons to move up into the No. 8 seed of the 6A West Regional, and host a first-round home game.
Kickoff is scheduled for 7 p.m. Friday night in Dodge City’s Memorial Stadium.
While the Red Demons needed some help getting this home game Friday, let us be clear: The Red Demons had to work for this.
That work has been evident nowhere perhaps more than in the turnover battle.
In the last three games, the Red Demons have turned the ball over a combined twice, including none against Garden City two weeks ago, according to statistics provided by the Dodge City High School Football Program.
Historically speaking, that clean a set of games is uncommon. To find a set of three games in which the team committed that few turnovers, one has to go back to the 2016 season. That year, the Red Demons committed zero turnovers in three games, though none of those were back-to-back.
Starting with the 2016 Hatchet Game, the Red Demons had committed at least one turnover in every game up until the 2018 Hatchet Game, a span of 18 consecutive games.
And even though Liberal entered last Friday’s game 1-6, the fact remains that when a better football team gives the ball away, even weaker competition can compete with a better team if given enough opportunity.
The Red Demons, over the last three games, have quit helping teams beat them.
Red Demon fans should feel encouraged about that as the team gets ready to face a Bluejays squad that has lost its last two.