CULVER – It’s been a long time since Plymouth and the Culver Academy have squared off in football action but Friday the two will match up for a chance at a sectional title.
“The last time we played Plymouth was over 20 years ago when Tom Condon was the head coach so it’s been a while,” said CMA head coach Andy Dorrel. “We are really looking forward to the opportunity for these teams to square off.”
The Eagles and Rockies took similar routes to Friday’s game. All the experts had New Prairie and Kankakee Valley fighting for the championship of sectional 18 but Plymouth took care of New Prairie and the Eagles crunched KV to set up Friday’s game.
“That’s what makes playoff football so exciting,” said Dorrel. “You don’t have to be the best team you just have to be the best team for one night. That was our approach going in. We were able to put the ball in the endzone a couple of times and force some turnovers that helped us to advance.”
The Eagles held the high-powered KV offense to just 14 points and defense has been a constant in the CMA season.
“I’ve said many times the key to our success is our defense,” said Dorrel. “Our defensive coaches Sam Mavrick, Kevin Dante, and Ibrahim Fetuga do a great job of teaching our kids the scheme and how to be aggressive and still maintain the integrity of the back end with coverages. I feel we are really solid but we have a tremendous contest with the running game Plymouth is going to throw at us.”
While Plymouth’s success has rotated around a power running game, the Academy offense lines up differently but is after the same result.
“We feel really good about three of our backs in Eli Pack, Jackson Mull and Jimmy Pisani,” said Dorrel. “Sprinkle some of our other guys in there we have a running attack that can give some team’s fits as long as we protect the football and execute.”
Plymouth has the attention of the Eagles on both sides of the ball.
“Overall just playing the Plymouth team has my attention,” said Dorrel. “Jake Reichard is a tremendous player. Their defensive ends are really solid. They do what they need to do in order to win and they aren’t going to apologize for it.”
“Obviously we are going to have to protect the football,” said Dorrel. “Reichard is the type of player that can take it the distance any time he touches the ball so we have to keep the ball out of his hands.”
“The way he distributes the ball to his teammates, they have an effective play-action passing game, but the challenge for us is we have to execute and maintain control of that football,” said Dorrel. “If we turn the ball over and give them a short field that is really going to be tough for us.”
“We have to force some turnovers, take care of our special teams, and let’s just play playoff football.”
In the end, the reunion of the two Marshall County programs should be a classic.
“I’m excited for our kids,” said Dorrel. “Regardless of the outcome, it’s just two football programs that work really hard to give their kids a positive experience.”