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Plymouth is looking to snap a two-game skid against a tough Concord squad, while Bremen tries to keep its perfect season intact on the road at Knox, and Triton hosts LaVille in a match-up of winless Northern State Conference teams as Week 7 of the football season gets underway Friday.
After a 3-1 start to the season, the Rockies (3-3, 2-2 NSC) are reeling from a pair of losses on the road at Elkhart Memorial and Wawasee in Weeks 5 and 6. But the squad seems ready to bounce back for its homecoming match-up against the Northern Lakes Conference-leading Minutemen (4-2, 3-0) this week.
â€śI think the key for us and what I like about what has happened since we lost to Wawasee is our kids have come back with a great attitude,â€ť said Plymouth Head Football Coach John Barron. â€śTheyâ€™ve been willing to accept the things that weâ€™ve done poorly and worked on them in practice, and that just shows me that theyâ€™re all in and that they trust in what weâ€™re doing as a coaching staff. Theyâ€™re willing to do the little things to get themselves to be a championship team.â€ť
Plymouth has its work cut out for it in Concord, a big, physical squad that boasts an Indiana University recruit in 6-foot-7, 260-pound offensive tackle Jason Spriggs, as well as a pair of talented juniors in Duwnan Alford and Franko House. The Minutemen hit the road for the Rockpile on a mission to wipe out the memory of last weekâ€™s non-conference home defeat against Jimtown.
â€śTheyâ€™ve just responded really well, and I think thatâ€™s going to be really important for us because Concord is a big, physical, very talented team,â€ť said Barron of his players. â€śThey come into our place undefeated in the conference and they won the conference last year. Theyâ€™re a program thatâ€™s always been at the top of the conference, especially the past five to eight years. Theyâ€™re a team whoâ€™s size is quite overwhelming. Itâ€™s one of the biggest offensive lines that Iâ€™ve seen in 22 years of coaching. They have a Division I athlete already in Jason Spriggs â€” heâ€™s going to Indiana â€”Â and theyâ€™ve got a couple of kids in Duwnan (Alford) and (Franko) House, those two kids are very talented and could be Division I athletes maybe in football and basketball.â€ť
â€śTheyâ€™re very talented kids, and theyâ€™ve had success against us in the past so itâ€™s really important that we get off to a very good start Friday just so that our kids get some confidence,â€ť Barron continued. â€śWe gave up a lot of yards last week, and itâ€™s just been a point of emphasis. Weâ€™ve got to get Concordâ€™s offense off the field and weâ€™ve got to get our offense on it. When we get on there we need to move the ball and we need to score some points.â€ť
While Plymouth and Concord contend to see who bounces back, IFCA Class 2A No. 6 Bremen (6-0, 4-0 NSC) is looking to keep things rolling at Knox (2-4, 1-3 NSC) Friday. The Lions enter the game after winning a lopsided 55-14 game against LaVille last week.
â€śI thought we played very well last week,â€ť said Bremen Head Coach Bob Holmes. â€śWe worked on some of the specifics that we needed to get better at. I think weâ€™re in the same position this week: We need to continue to get better. Weâ€™re at the point in the season where we need to be firing on all cylinders, and it comes down to paying attention to the little things.â€ť
While Bremen has plenty to feel good about, the Lions are also continuously trying to polish out the details as they attempt to remain in NSC championship contention and the post-season looms. This week, the task is better blocking and tackling.
â€śCommunication on the offensive line, making sure we get our proper block,â€ť said Holmes. â€śDefensively we talk about the same thing each week. Weâ€™ve got to tackle better; weâ€™ve got to make sure weâ€™re using proper technique and being aggressive. I think those are two things that win football games â€” tackling and blocking â€” and those are two things we still need to work on.â€ť
While Bremen stays in the hunt for a conference championship, the Trojans (0-6, 0-4 NSC) and the Lancers (0-6, 0-4 NSC) are both looking to avoid ending up at the bottom of the NSC heap this week.
Although Triton suffered a 31-14 loss at New Prairie last week, Triton is feeling positive about some of the things it was able to do against the Cougars. The Trojans took an initial 14-0 lead in the first quarter and even held a slim 14-13 halftime advantage but was eventually worn down by a deeper New Prairie squad.
â€śA big thing that really hurt us last week is running out of gas,â€ť said Triton head coach Rodney Younis. â€śWith our numbers this year, weâ€™ve got several kids that are playing offense, defense and special teams. By the fourth quarter, we really felt likeâ€¦ New Prairieâ€™s size and strength over the course of the game just kind of wore us down. By the fourth quarter, our kids were giving us everything they had; they were just gassed. Itâ€™s something weâ€™ve talked about. Even though we have some younger kids that may not necessarily be quite ready, weâ€™re going to have to play them just to spell us so we can use them in the fourth quarter and they still have plenty in the tank.â€ť
Helping add some depth to the team is the return of starting quarterback Zak Shively last week as well as talented freshman Kevin Heckaman this week.
â€śWeâ€™ve gotten a couple kids back,â€ť Younis said. â€śObviously Zak Shively, last week was his first week back, and just getting another week of practice under his belt is really going to help us out. Another kid that hasnâ€™t played since Week 1, Kevin Heckaman,Â heâ€™s a freshman, but heâ€™s our fastest kid on the team. So heâ€™s definitely going to bring that speed to the team this week. Heâ€™s missed quite a few games, and weâ€™re kind of just trying to get him back into the swing of things, but we feel that he can give us a spark.â€ť