Barnum looks to fix the small mistakes heading into playoffsThere’s nothing like a first-round playoff bye to get a team ready for the playoffs. Even though the Barnum Bombers don’t technically have one, they do have a week off before starting section play in two weeks, which is the next best thing.
By: Jeff Papas, Pine Journal
There’s nothing like a first-round playoff bye to get a team ready for the playoffs. Even though the Barnum Bombers don’t technically have one, they do have a week off before starting section play in two weeks, which is the next best thing.
After Friday’s game at Ely, the Bombers (4-2) would have played Carlton-Fond du Lac in their last game, but with that
program in hiatus, Kevin Haley’s men get a week off
“The week off is going to help us,” Haley said. “You never want your seniors to be shorted a game in their last season, but for us right now we have some players banged up a little bit. This will help us heal.”
One of those players is leading rusher Danny Warpula, who has carried the ball 75 times for 781 yards and eight touchdowns this season.
However, the Bombers can also use the extra practice time with the week off, according to Haley. A 14-12 loss to Ogilvie Friday night was the team’s second of the season and exposed some areas where the team needs to improve.
“We took a few steps forward this season but a few back against Ogilvie and Cook County (the other team to beat Barnum this season),” Haley said. “Ogilvie is good, well coached, they hit hard and they are a physical team. They made fewer mistakes than we did.”
Barnum outgained Ogilvie 260-150 for the night, but little mistakes made the difference.
“We would move the ball a bit and get a penalty or turn it over,” Haley said. “The mistakes are correctable, but we are coming to the point in the season where we can’t afford to make those mistakes. Our section is one of the toughest in the state.”
Case in point: Haley expects to be a five seed with a 5-2 record even if the team does as expected and wins at Ely on Friday night.
That would put a team three games over .500 on the road for its first playoff game.
“I think we are a pretty good team,” Haley said. “Ely is solid, they have a couple of wins and a nice running back. We will have to play well and fix the little things. But the two losses will probably put us on the road for the first round.”
The top four seeds are expected to be Braham, Deer River, Ogilvie and Cook County. The last two teams on that list play each other on Friday night with the loser expected to be the fourth seed, hosting the Bombers.
“So we might get a chance for some redemption since we will probably play one of the two teams that beat us,” Haley said.
The Bombers continue to roll up yards on the ground but have thrown the ball about twice as often as they did last year. Quarterback Bobby Minkkinen has completed 17 of 42 passes for 261 yards and four touchdowns this year.
In addition to Warpula’s rushing numbers, Jake Blumer has rushed for 463 yards and four scores, Wyatt Finifrock has rushed for 275 yards and three touchdowns, and Branden King has gained 263 yards with five scores for the Bombers.
Sam Anderson leads the defense with 49 tackles and Sam Kovanen has four sacks.
“We have a good rotation of very solid running backs,” Haley said. “I am very pleased with how we are running – and throwing – the ball.”
However, fixing the small mistakes will be key to any playoff success the Bombers might enjoy.
“Making the correct steps to block, making the right reads,” Haley said. “It’s not like our backs are going in the wrong direction or anything like that, but we have to do those things well in close games. Once we hit the playoffs there is no margin for error.”