A playoff win for the first time since 2013 can bring a different kind of feeling.
Last week, Chanute High School blew out Fort Scott 28-7 in what became the Blue Comets first football playoff victory in six years, and their second straight win over Fort Scott this season.
Head coach Clete Frazell said he feels the difference.
“It’s really fun this time of year,” Frazell said. “When you win playoff games, it gets pretty exciting to be a survivor that moves on to the next round. It’s a lot of fun and it’s just really like a bonus game. It feels like an extra opportunity.
“We kind of focused this week on playing without fear. And just going and making the most of an opportunity, and winning another ballgame. We want to play stress free and loose.”
CHS (8-1) will look to play the same way in a Class 4A Regional game versus Louisburg (6-3) today, 7 pm at home.
The Wildcats come in today not as hot as Chanute — the Blue Comets have won seven in a row — winning six out of the last seven, including a close 16-8 loss to Paola High School, a program that is undefeated (9-0) and facing a 4-5 Kansas City Piper team in a Regional playoff game. The winner of that game faces the winner of Chanute-Louisburg.
Both of these teams faced each other in the 2010 and the 2011 State playoffs, with Louisburg winning 56-35 over the Blue Comets in 2010, and the Blue Comets shutting out the Wildcats 21-0 in 2011.
“We have played them in the playoffs from when I started in ‘05,” Frazell mentioned. “It’s about 50/50. It seems like when I started, every year we would lose to Paola or Louisburg in the playoffs. And a couple of those years, Paola and Louisburg both made State championship games. And Louisburg won a State title (2010) when we played them. After my first few years, we started beating them. It’s kind of been a back and forth battle that’s been regular up until the last four or five years.”
As CHS’ student-athletes prepare this week to expand on the Chanute-Louisburg playoff rivalry, practice during the week leading up to the playoff game has included less hitting with less time. Frazell, though, said there has been more mental reps in an effort for players to be sharp come game time.
“This week our kids were mentally engaged in practice,” Frazell continued. “I think they’re locked in and they’re going to be ready. They’re going to understand what Louisburg is going to try to do to us offensively. And we are going to understand their defense and how we need to attack.”
While they might understand what they see on film, CHS will need a strong game plan for today’s playoff game in order to put the plan of attack together. Frazell said he understands that the Wildcats remind him of the team that caused CHS’ only loss this year: Pittsburg.
Despite Pittsburg losing to Spring Hill last week in the first round of the playoffs and having a 4-5 record, the Purple Dragons had a physical running game, as well as offensive and defensive lines that were more than formidable, and this is the team he can easily compare to Louisburg. Louisburg also plays in a tough conference in the Frontier League, a league that includes two teams (Tonganoxie and Paola) that have undefeated records, with the Wildcats being the fourth best team in the league record-wise.
This fourth-best team boasts a burly and skilled defensive line, as well as skilled runners in the running game.
But Chanute features deft playmakers coupled with stout offensive and defensive lines to combat the Wildcat attack.
“We are preparing like we would any other week, and I’m just talking to them about what a great opportunity it is,” Frazell said. “And I’m just making sure that these guys understand that these games are big, not to start thinking about the next season — just staying in the moment.”