The Orrick Bearcat defense has recorded back-to-back shutouts heading into Friday night’s I-70 Conference showdown with the Orioles in Concordia. The top-ranked Bearcats have blanked three opponents on their way to a 5-0 start, but will face their biggest test to date when the ball is teed up a 7 p.m.
Concordia erupted for five consecutive touchdowns in a 12-minute span in the first half of last week’s 56-40 victory over Slater last week.
“Anytime you score 56 points, you have to feel good about your offense and I think they do,” Orrick Coach Pat Richard said.
The 3-2 Orioles opened with victories over Crest Ridge and Lone Jack and then fell to Knob Noster and Sweet Springs before getting back in the win column last week. Richard said the key to the Concordia offense has been sophomore quarterback Kent Schuette, who stepped in when the regular starter went down with an injury, and has provided another dimension to the Oriole attack.
“He’s quicker, he’s more athletic, he’s smaller and you can’t see him,” Richard said. “I think they’re going to run some more option at us. I think they’re going to try and use his athleticism to run that option and feature him and those backs behind that big line and see what they can do running the football.”
The Concordia backfield also features senior Jordan Murray, who scored on a 44-yard run last week, and Jacob Kapala, a sophomore who ran for 105 of the Orioles 400 yards, in addition to returning a kickoff 90 yards for a touchdown.
The backs run behind what Richard called the biggest line his team will face this season. “They are definitely one of the best teams we will see all year up front,” he said. “Whoever controls the line of scrimmage will win the game. If we can get that done on offense and defense, we’ll win.”
Last year the Orioles gave Orrick its toughest regular season test before falling 28-14 in a game where Bearcat running back Taylor Eubank was ejected early in the second quarter.
“It was a challenge,” Richard said. “The great thing about last year’s game is we’re sitting there with two sophomores and a freshman in the backfield and that’s when we really started to roll offensively.”
Richard said the Concordia offense proved to be a big key for the defense by keeping the football away from the Bearcats.
“Their offense definitely gave us more problems than anyone last year,” he said. “Even though they didn’t score that many points, they did an excellent job of controlling the ball. We have to do a great job up front of controlling the fullback and stopping the option and force them into some things they don’t want to do.”
Richard will not be able to witness how his team performs Friday night. The Bearcat coach, who was ejected from last week’s 36-0 win at Windsor, must sit out Friday night as a result. However, Richard knows the team is in good hands with assistant Bryan O’Dell.
“Bryan’s been with me for nine years and I have no doubt he’s going to get the job done,” he said. “He knows the offense as well as I do. He’ll do a good job calling it and I know the kids will do a good job of executing it.”