TIPTON, Mo. — Tipton is coming off its best quarter of the season after scoring 24 unanswered points in the fourth quarter last Saturday against Liberal to turn a four-point deficit into a lopsided 32-12 win.
With a date at undefeated and fourth-ranked Lincoln tonight, Tipton has picked as good a time as any to grab some momentum.
"At this level, you have to take what you can get and hope that it carries on," Tipton head coach Tony Braby said. " It was a very good way to finish the game. It was a game of two halves.
"We did some things we were really smiling about after the game. Hopefully we can use that confidence going into Lincoln."
Tonight's game will be a matchup of Cardinals, and both teams are 1-0 in the Kaysinger Conference after each beat Windsor earlier in the season. But that's about where the similarities end.
While Tipton (2-3) has played in three straight closely-contested games after struggling the first two weeks of the season, Lincoln (5-0) has yet to be tested at all, often playing with a running clock at the start of the second half.
Lincoln enters tonight having won its games by a combined 256-19. Senior quarterback Boone Kroenke leads the charge. Kroenke, a dual threat, has a flock of speedy receivers at his disposal in Blake Roberts, Mason Sanders, Trevor Kroenke and Connor Spunaugle.
For Tipton to do its best to contain Lincoln's explosive attack, it's up to both the offense and defense to perform at a high level.
"We are going to try to eat up as much of the clock as we can," Braby said. "If we can snap the ball with under five seconds left on the play clock, that'll eat some time off. If we can grind out some first downs, then that keeps their offense on the sideline.
" We're going to really have to tackle well and get a lot of people at the point of attack. They throw extremely well so we have to have good coverage and good defensive pressure on the quarterback."
Offensively, Tipton doesn't figure to make any drastic changes to try and solve Lincoln's defense. Tipton will again have Braden Brownfield under center, who threw a touchdown pass in his first start of the year last week.
The team will also continue to feed fullback Dakota Pace, who rushed for 174 yards and two touchdowns on 19 carries against Liberal.
"We've added one new play based on their alignment that we think will help get us some first downs," Braby said. "Other than that, we're going to try and work with what's been successful for us. Hopefully that will be enough to keep the ball moving."
With Lincoln having speed to burn on both sides, Tipton cannot afford to give away any free yards, so one change it will hope to make from its game against Liberal is to clean up the pre-snap penalties.
"You can practice and never make those mistakes, but then when you bring in another team, all of a sudden, there's a little bit of movement," Braby said. "We don't have that constant problem in practice, yet we don't practice against out opponents."
Though Tipton will of course be playing for a win tonight, the team has goals within the game that will constitute a successful trip to Lincoln, regardless of the final result.
"I don't know if we'll ever stop Lincoln with where we're at right now," Braby said. "But they haven't played a full game this year. I'd love for them to have to play four quarters. That'd be a feather in our cap."
Although Lincoln drubbed Tipton 42-6 last year, Braby's squad won't go to Lincoln and simply show up. Tipton enters as a confident group based on not only last week's win, but last year's game against Lincoln.
"We have to play our best game possible," Braby said. "(Last year) we both played late into the fourth quarter with our starters. I think our kids feel good. They think we're a better football team than we were last year, and we know Lincoln is as well."
Podcast Preview: Tipton Cardinals Football Podcast [Lincoln preview, Sept. 23, 2016]