Reeling from the tragic loss of of one of their leaders, the Rockies found a way to win a football game a week ago at Wawasee, but lost fullback Jeremy Splix to a broken leg late in the game. It was also a game that saw Plymouth head coach John Barron pass a milestone with the most wins by a head football coach in Plymouth High School history at 94.
“Heading into the year it (the record) was brought to my attention,” said Barron of the honor. “As a coach you deflect the credit. All of our guys have had a part of this. We’ve had some great players, but I’m proud of it. I’m glad that we’ve had success.
“Maybe it will mean more when the season is over. That game had a lot more meaning than me meeting a milestone. It was a moment of healing for our community and our program.”
A return to relative normalcy was welcome.
“As each day has gone by it’s been a little bit better for them (the players),” said Barron. “They seem happy when they are together and practice is one of the best environments for us to be in as a coaching staff. It affected us so greatly – a lot of people on a lot of different levels.”
With that normalcy however comes another NLC rival Concord.
“Concord is Concord. They look like the same team. They have big, athletic guys and they look like they can throw the ball up the field and hit the home run,” said Barron. “They have an explosive running back (Matt Fragale), they have huge offensive lineman and they are an attacking defense.
“Coach (Craig) Koehler has what looks like a (previous Concord head coach) Tim Dawson team. He’s got his own wrinkle in it. There are some subtle nuances but they look like an awfully good coached team to me.”
One of those subtle nuances is a desire to get a bit more traditional on offense.
“They want to run the ball more. I think Tim might have wanted to do that too they just had the athletes to throw it down the field,” said Barron. “Coach Koehler wants to run the ball more. They are still spread, they will be two by two and shot gun I with the running back behind the quarterback not beside like they have before.”
The implications of the game are clear. All you have to do is look at the team’s records and the history of the match up as far as NLC titles are concerned.
“For the last decade or so it’s been us or them and we are both undefeated coming in so it will have a lot to do with the conference championship,” said Barron. “I think it’s going to be a classic Plymouth/Concord game.”
“I like our kids approach. We have this feel that it doesn’t matter we’ll find a way to get the job done,” said Barron. “This group is special in that they find a way to be successful. We’re going to have to find a way to run the football. We’re in a spread but we’re running the ball a lot more than I thought we would, Jack is running it a lot more than I thought he would.
“We need to tackle. We didn’t tackle very well a week ago. I love our kids. I love the way they prepare and the way they represent themselves and our community and our school, and in the end the scoreboard doesn’t really matter does it? Just go out and play and make memories that will help you become a better person.”