PLYMOUTH — Plymouth’s “Road Warriors” will return to the Rock on Friday hoping to pick up their first home football win of the 2012 season.
The Rockies, who are 2-0 on the season away from home and a shocking 0-2 at PHS, returned to full strength at Northridge a week ago and the defense responded by pitching a shutout in a 34-0 win. It was a complete turnaround for the unit that was much maligned in the first three games.
“Northridge is a really good football team, and I feel like we smothered them defensively,” said Plymouth coach John Barron. “One reason is we changed our scheme. Since I came here as Tom Condon’s assistant I’ve been a 4-4 guy but we finally decided to go with an odd front.”
The debate about whether a 3-4 or 4-4 defense is most effective rages all the way to NFL ranks. For the Rockies — as with most teams — it’s a matter of personnel.
“More and more people are doing it to us, and we really needed a spark,” said Barron. “We needed to put our kids in a position where they could be aggressive. You put a kid like Deandre Pickford at that nose position where he doesn’t have to be quite so disciplined, and you have (Ethan) Sampson and (Vincente) Vasquez at those inside (linebacker) spots where in our system they are taught to read the guards on every play and those guards are uncovered right there in front of them.
“In addition it allows a kid like Kyser McCrammer to play in space which is where he is the best. We struggled with pass defense and now those guys have help behind them with two safeties. We really like what we saw, the kids like it, and we’re going to do what’s best for the personnel we have.”
Then there was the offense.
“The numbers speak for themselves — (quarterback) Ike (Kastner) had a great game,” said Barron. “But more than just those numbers he affected everybody around him. In the offense we run, if your quarterback is that big a threat to run the football it makes you hard to handle. (Fullback) Sam (Stevens) can beat you by himself and anybody we play is going to have to tie up a bunch of guys to just stop him on that dive. I feel like our wings are pretty good and when your quarterback is that big a threat too it becomes very difficult. With his (Kastner’s) game experience it’s a matter of managing the offense and worrying about schemes, and that’s going to make you better.”
“I really like our team right now,” he added.
A curious Elkhart Memorial team comes to town Friday with some bizarre numbers for that program. The Crimson Chargers are 0-4 on the year but maybe more shocking is the fact they have managed just three points in those four losses, suffering three straight shutouts, including a strange 2-0 loss to Goshen two weeks ago.
“I really don’t know what’s up with them. I only know that when you play a school that has as many athletes walking in the hallway as they do you don’t take them lightly,” said Barron. “Their coach (Bill Roggeman) is in his first year, but he’s been a head coach before and he was Tim Dawson’s (Concord head football coach) offensive coordinator for years.
“I just know they have a lot of great athletes on that roster and they are a threat to score any time they touch the ball. This is also the game where everything really went south for us last year. We’re trying to impress that upon our kids.”