Plymouth faces tough road test at Northridge

Plymouth's defense will be key again this week at Northridge
By: 
Rusty Nixon
Sports Editor

The trip to Northridge has become one of the toughest in the NLC and Plymouth’s Rockies will hit the road for the third time in the last four weeks trying to come away with an NLC win.
The Rockies come off an emotional home victory over a tough Warsaw team that took them to overtime in each team’s NLC opener.
“That game had a lot of aspects in it that we may face later,” said Plymouth head coach John Barron. “We played an overtime. We were winning, we had to come from behind, we had to deal with big plays the other team made. There were a lot of pressure packed plays that we had to execute. There were a lot of plays in that game that we as a coaching staff are hoping that our players can take and respond to if we get into those situations again.”
“You can set all that stuff up in practice, but until you do it in front of a crowd on Friday night it’s completely different.”
It was also a night when the Rockies learned a little bit about themselves.
“We learned that we are kind of resilient,” said Barron. “We’ve scored defensively in every game. I’m pleased that defensively we can compete. I think we’ve learned a lot about our team. We should feel confident that we can defend the run, we can defend the pass and we can score some points.”
With the defense continuing to score points to take off the pressure offensively the new Rockie scheme showed signs of life in the second half, finding ways to move the ball and take home a win.
“A lot of this is about getting Cole Filson more involved,” said Barron. “He has the perfect skill set for where he’s playing in this offense. He’s fearless catching the ball over the middle and when you have a guy that can threaten you that way in the middle of the field on the play action pass he’s a weapon.”
“Getting Blake Reed used to some different types of blocking schemes and a different running style - he finally is getting used to getting a couple feet on the ground and jump stopping - I think our offensive line is starting to gel.”
This week that offense will face one of the NLC’s best defensive coaches in Tom Wogoman who historically has found a way to take away much of whatever Plymouth has wanted to do offensively.
“He knows how to take away what you want to do. This is one of the reasons why we want this offense is to beat a team like Northridge that can take away a lot of things,” said Barron. “They have the ability and the talent to take away your best play.”
So far as the Raiders are concerned they sport one of - if not the best - players in the conference.
“They will be very stingy on defense but they are all about Julius Graber,” said Barron. “He is a really, really good football player. If Bronson Yoder at NorthWood is the most dynamic player in our conference then Graber is no worse than 1A. He runs the ball very well. He throws the ball very well. He reads option very well. He plays defense, he returns kicks. We just have to find a way to slow him down and still stay with all the other great players they have.”
“They know how to win,” said Barron. “They are very physical. We need to take care of the ball. We can’t have the penalties we had last week. We have to figure out where we can attack their defense.”
Game time in Middlebury is 7 p.m.

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