PLYMOUTH - With a fourth "key" game in a row in the rearview and another just up ahead Plymouth's Rockies have some other unique hurdles as they come down the home stretch of the season.
The win Friday over Concord puts the Rockies in a position they've been in frequently in the past decade headed towards a match up with NorthWood.
"After the (Concord) game you really realized how tough their front five are," said Plymouth head coach John Barron. "We struggled at times blocking them and I think our front five are really good."
The emergence of the Plymouth defense was just in time to keep the Rockies in position to contend for at least a piece of the NLC title.
"We hung in there," said Barron. "Our defense did what it needed to do to make some plays and cause some turnovers. We talk about our offense a lot but our defense is getting better."
"The back end of our defense are guys who play a lot of snaps and you worry about that," said Barron. "We got (Blake) Davis back and that makes a big difference. (Isaac) Navejar has played as well as anybody has upfront. Garcia is steady and getting better. We settled in on guys who can rush the passer."
While the "heavy package" upfront is still ready to come on and stop the run when that time comes, this week will be another week for the athletic front.
"We have to have guys who can rush the passer this week because Goshen is going to throw the ball," said Barron.
The Red Hawks are the team that stands between Plymouth and a date with long-time rival NorthWood, and they have been a team that not only have had their share of NLC titles, but has also ruined quite a few Plymouth seasons along the way.
"They've been like a lot of schools," said Barron. "Their demographics have changed and it's getting harder and harder to keep guys out for the sport. It really helps to have really good players."
"They have good players," he said. "They've had the injury bug and turnovers at the wrong time. Once that starts your players begin to think they can't win. I think they are fighting that a little bit."
Barron has problems of his own.
"We've got fall break coming up and senior night, with everybody talking about break," he said. "People are talking about a lot of other things than a football game."
"We have to stay focused on playing a game and winning a game and staying so engaged that nobody gets hurt or we have negative things happen," said Barron. "Its the kind of thing that you can't let something from the outside come in and keep you from winning a championship."
For the Rockies, the coming stretch involves the mental part of the game.
"We have to practice hard, we have to play hard," said Barron. "We can't lessen our mental focus and approach to the game because as soon as you do that something bad is going to happen."