For several area teams, Week 6 is about sweating the fundamentals and bouncing back.
Nothing takes away the taste of a tough loss like a victory, and no one wants one more than Plymouth.
The Rockies (3-2, 2-1 NLC) suffered a bruising defeat at Elkhart Memorial last week. The Chargers held Plymouth’s run game to a mere 123 yards to snap a three-game win streak and handed the visitors their first Northern Lakes Conference loss of the year 35-0, the first shutout since eighth-year head coach John Barron took the reins in 2004.
Plymouth hits the road a second straight week to take on Wawasee (3-2, 2-1 NLC) this Friday.
“After coming off a loss like we came off of, we’re not feeling real good about much,” said Barron. “It’s really more about Plymouth than it is about Wawasee right now. I hope our kids will play a game where they feel like they’ve got something to prove. Obviously, last week we had some issues, and I think most of the issues have been dealt with within our program, and that’s all that really matters at this point. We’ve just got to get back to enjoying playing the game. Being a part of that last week, that wasn’t any fun for anybody. Wasn’t any fun for the kids, wasn’t any fun for the coaches, and I’m quite sure it wasn’t any fun for any of the parents or anybody that supports our program. “
“We fell off the horse, we’ve just got to get right back on it,” he added. “During tough times is when you show your true character, and I think last Friday we hit rock bottom. I think our kids understand it; at least they’ve heard from the coaches how we feel about it. It’s up to them now. They’ve got to perform.”
Wawasee enters Friday’s game coming off a big, 20-12 win at NorthWood last week, and the Rockies are stressing fundamentals as they prepare to take on the fundamentally sound Warriors.
“We’re playing a really good Wawasee team that just went on the road and beat NorthWood, and that’s not easy to do,” said Barron. “They’re very well-coached, they’re very sound; I think it’s the best Wawasee team I’ve seen on film since Coach (Tom) Wogoman took over. They don’t make a lot of mistakes. They very rarely beat themselves, and they beat us last year, so they’ve proven that they can beat Plymouth. They’re a handful for a lot of reasons.
“We went back to basics. This week just boils down to fundamentals and getting back to being tough kids and trusting in each other and believing in each other and what we’re doing. Nothing new, there certainly wasn’t anything added.”
Culver (3-2, 2-1 NSC) is also trying to put a tough loss behind it as the Cavaliers host Northern State Conference foe Knox (2-3, 1-2 NSC).
Like Plymouth, Culver took its first loss since Week 1 last Friday, falling 20-13 in a back-and-forth battle with Bremen, but the Cavs are leaving the past in the past as they get ready for the Redskins, who are coming off a 41-16 win over LaVille.
“It’s over with. We haven’t talked about it. We’re not focused on it,” said Culver head coach Andy Thomas. “It’s just on to the next team. It hasn’t been a part of our preparation this week at all. We’re just ready to move on and ready to get back to football this week. We’re looking forward to playing Friday.”
While Plymouth and Culver try to right the ship, a young Triton squad (0-5, 0-3 NSC) continues to hunt for its first win at New Prairie (0-5, 0-3 NSC) in a match-up of winless Northern State Conference teams, and the byword of the week is fundamentals.
“Our main concern is we are getting better in certain areas of the game, and there are other areas of the game where we still need a lot of work,” said Triton head coach Rodney Younis. “We just keep working on the little fundamental things that we can correct. There are some things that we can’t physically change about our players, but our fundis, we can and that’s what we’ve been focusing on.”
Although the Trojans sustained their most lopsided defeat of the season against John Glenn, 63-7 last week, one positive development for the team is the return of erstwhile starting senior quarterback Zak Shively after he was sidelined three weeks with injuries. His return should help free junior QB Bryson Mosier up to make some contributions in a variety of roles for Triton.
“We’re still not 100 percent who’s going to start this week, but Zak’s definitely back so he will be playing at some point at some position,” said Younis.
“Arm strength is the reason why he was our starting quarterback. Bryson does a really good job, and he’s the type of player that can play basically anywhere. He’s not outstanding at any one position, but he can play pretty much any position and do a good job for us, so we’re excited to be able to put him back in that type of role. He can really help us playing at tight end, playing a slot position, playing at fullback. He can just play anywhere for us, so we’re excited to have that option.”
While Bremen (5-0, 3-0 NSC) stayed perfect in its win at Culver last week, the Lions still see some areas to improve on, and they’re getting back to basics in this week’s home game against LaVille (0-5, 0-3 NSC).
“First and foremost, we’ve got to take care of the football,” said head coach Bob Holmes. “We’re not doing a very good job of taking care of the football — turnovers are really hurting us. Possession of the ball is critical. We also have to pass the ball better than we did last week. We need to really concentrate on our route running. Our routes are getting a little bit sloppy. It’s all about details at this point in the season. We should be getting better and not getting worse. We’ve got to really concentrate on all the little things.”
In other area action, John Glenn (4-1, 3-1 NSC) takes a break from NSC play as it hosts potential Sectional 17 foe Culver Military Academy (2-3). The Falcons enter the contest on a three-game tear, while the Eagles are attempting to snap a two-game skid.