By Rusty Nixon
PLYMOUTH – It’s that week.
For year’s Plymouth vs. NorthWood was THE rivalry game in area football. The two teams had a habit of ruining each other’s seasons despite their respective records either in the regular season NLC standings or in the playoffs that followed. This year is no different as far as Plymouth is concerned.
You don’t have to get their (Plymouth players) attention too much about NorthWood,” said Plymouth head coach John Barron. “ There’s a lot going on. You can sugar coat all you want they know what the (Sectional) draw is. We have to concentrate on getting guys ready to play this game the way they want to play it.”
Especially considering an outstanding performance by the Rockies a week ago against Goshen.
“I think we really challenged the offensive side of the ball and I thought they responded,” said Barron. “Coach (Mike) Kershner did a great job of calling some things we hadn’t called in awhile and trusting some kids other than our quarterback and fullback to touch the ball.
“We purposefully made sure that Cam Eveland got the ball and you saw what he did with it when he had it. Opposite of Cam it was Hooten. Terrance had some big plays in there running and catching the ball. It comes down to two things offensively execution and not turning the ball over.”
While the Rockies “opened the play book” so to speak, it wasn’t to an obscure page full of tricks.
“Those were plays we’ve always had in the play book,” said Barron. “I called the plays for 14 years and whenever you have that security blanket of fullback, quarterback option, get in the I run iso like we’ve done over the last 25 years – or whatever it migh be – it gets easy to call the same play when your having success. It kind of slapped us in the face as a staff that we needed to try to distribute the ball more than we have.”
Continuing to build on that momentum will be difficult.
“They are going to play hard,” said Barron. “They are fast, they are quick. They want to get the hand into some guys hands. (Trey) Bilinski is a very talented quarterback but they want to get the ball into number 23’s hands. That guy can absolutely fly – Bailey Gessinger – I think he’s faster on a track than he is a football field but I don’t know he looks pretty fast on a football field too.
“They are going to get some big plays, there’s no doubt about that. If we can limit that, sustain some drives and get our own big plays I think that will be a key to the game. I really think they’re going to throw the ball in the flats, they’re going to try to throw the ball down the field. They’re going to try to get our outside linebackers away from the line and we’re going to try to keep them on the line of scrimmage so we’re going to put some pressure on our secondary.”
The Plymouth coach does have one intangible in his game planning.
“I know this team doesn’t like to lose,” said Barron. “It doesn’t matter what it is – cards, video games, whatever. When you have that as a coach you have a little bit of peace knowing that we’ve gotten back on track from a few weeks ago. We’re in the right mind set now. I just want to see us play well. If we play well we ought to win.