What Steve said: Steve Bubalo 8/25
By Stephen Bubalo PrepsKC Senior Writer
It can be a dangerous thing to jump to conclusions too quickly in sports. After all, the term “small sample size” exists for a reason.
But that doesn’t mean you can’t walk away impressed after watching a team play its first game, and that’s how I felt after getting an up close look at Odessa last Friday night.
The Bulldogs have what it takes to be very competitive and possibly make some noise in Class 3 this season.
It’s OK, it’s my column so jumping to conclusions is allowed.
Although, in all honesty, I’m not sure it’s that surprising of a statement or that much of a leap to say the Bulldogs could be dangerous.
Coming off a solid 7-4 season, Odessa lost some pieces from a year ago but what they didn’t lose is the muscle in the trenches. They’re big and they’re strong.
I was impressed with both lines, especially on the defensive side of the ball. They were dominant in shutting down the St. Pius X run game. Head coach Mark Thomas has an embarrassment of riches up front.
"We have seven or eight guys we can rotate in there,” he said. "The D-line is definitely one of our strong suits. We have a lot of depth there.”
One thing that really stood out about the entire Bulldog defense, not just the defensive line, was their physicality. They laid the wood on a few hits. It was clear they were on a mission in week one.
The offensive line is more solidified, as Thomas doesn’t do as much rotating there, but they were a solid unit that opened plenty of holes for the Bulldog offense.
Which brings us to Kobe Hardin.
I believe Hardin could be a huge x-factor for the Bulldogs.
After not playing any high school football, Hardin decided to come out for the team in his senior season. People wanted him to play. They told him he’d be good, he said.
I think they might be right.
His combination of size and speed didn’t disappoint. He’s got that “natural ability,” Thomas said. And he figures to get a majority of the carries this season, according to Thompson, but throw in Mason Smith and Austin Weygandt, and it’s a nice three-headed monster to give defenses fits.
While Hardin had the most impressive night in Odessa's 33-14 win with 100-plus yards and three scores, it was Smith who had the most impressive run of the game, a play that saw him start left and dart his way over to the right side of the field for a 71-yard touchdown, only to have it called back on a penalty.
The Bulldogs have a good chance to get out to a 4-0 start before a showdown with defending Class 3 champ Oak Grove September 18. I expect both teams to be undefeated for that game.
Talk about a test for these Bulldogs. It’s never smart to look ahead, but I wouldn’t be surprised if the players have that date circled on their calendars.
Would they be able to pull the upset?
Don’t ask me. It’s irresponsible to jump to such conclusions, remember?
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