If there was a question of how Plymouth’s Rockies would respond to nearly a month layoff, it was answered with an exclamation point on Friday.
The Rockies came out of the locker room and dominated almost every facet of a win over New Prairie.
“New Prairie has been a thorn in our side for a number of years but there was so much hype before that game with my illness and being a month before we actually played a game,” said Plymouth coach John Barron. “We let people know what we went through. Thankfully it worked out for our kids. They played so well and so fast and confident. That was the impressive thing that I took away from the game”.
It’s been a season of adjustments for every program but even more so for the Rockies
“When we lost Ivan (Winkle) that was a huge domino and we don’t have a lot of depth at running back,” said Barron. “We like (Adriel) Lester but he’s a sophomore. We needed more DNA in the backfield. (Quentin) Crawford lost some weight, and (Colin) Mills has always been in the backfield. Both of them are having senior years. It’s kind of a three-headed monster back there with them.”
“We know we have good players,” he said. “We don’t have a lot of depth. We have a really good team. Our kids are confident right now. When you start changing your quarterback from week to week it’s not good. At any level. We have the right kid back there. We have the right kids back there with him.”
The “three-headed monster” will face off against another team nobody expected to get through round one in the Culver Academy Eagles. They also feel they have something to prove.
“Anybody would want to coach Eli Pack,” said Barron of the Eagles standout on defense and fullback. “I call him a tackling machine. He is all over the place.
“Jackson Mull is fast,” he said of the CMA wing. “Their quarterback, the (Jimmy) Pisani kid, is a lacrosse player, he is big and he’s fast. I can’t remember the last time we played a team that has a kid who plays quarterback and defensive end.”
“They fly around on defense,” said Barron. “It’s controlled chaos. We’ve played around with the 3-3 stack (defense) before but we quickly got out of it. But if you know what you’re doing and you stack linebackers behind lineman like they are doing, it becomes a real challenge. They are going to mix things up and stunt, they aren’t going to sit, they will stunt like crazy. We have to be conscious of that when we have the ball.”
The constantly attacking Academy defense is no less a threat than the Eagle offense that will use all their weapons to their utmost.
“On defense (Mull) has to be tackled by more than one person,” said Barron. “Pisani needs to be tackled by more than one person, and we better know where (Pack) is at. He will run right over you. He is a very physical guy.”
“We have to play at a high level,” he said. “It doesn’t matter who you are playing right now you have to play at a high level. You’re playing for your survival.”
Against an attacking defense of the Academy the Rockies will have to be patient.
“You have to give your kid’s rules upfront,” said Barron. “You have to get them (CMA) when they take chances. They do take chances. If Jake (Reichard) can find some time, move him around some, and find Devante (Garcia) or Michael (Sheely) over the top that’s good. They will stunt people. That’s what they do. They do it so well. It’s not like they are just stunting. They do it with a purpose.”
The Rockies need a repeat of last week’s effort.
“We need to be physical,” said Barron. “They have six kids going both ways and we have to hit them. They are going to hit us but we need to be the more physical team.”
“We have to take advantage of their aggressiveness and get some big plays.”