An Orrick Bearcat defense, that has registered three consecutive shutouts, meets an offense that has had its share of troubles Friday night.
The No. 1 ranked Bearcats will host St. Paul for Homecoming at Simmons Field with the visiting Saints entering the 7 p.m. kickoff having scored just 3 points while surrendering 116 in three I-70 Conference losses in as many games.
The bad news for the remainder of those on Orrick’s schedule is that coach Pat Richard feels his defensive unit can still get better.
“I think we’ve got a great understanding of the system,” he said. “When you have kids who have basically already played in the scheme for a year, it’s pretty easy to make changes and adapt for things to be successful. I think we’re doing that. The kids are being very good about being focused and about our adjustments and flying to the ball.”
Richard was especially pleased with the play of his linebackers in last week’s 46-0 win at Concordia. He said the unit had its best game of the season behind the line that has been equally as solid.
Helping key the defensive unit last week was Leslee Eubank who recorded 4 tackles including 2 sacks for a loss of 21 yards and a fumble recovery.
“He’s one of those kids – and we’ve got a lot of them and that’s the beauty of our team – that on any given night somebody’s going to make a bunch of big plays,” Richard said. “Last week it was Leslee and this week, it could be somebody else.”
The St. Paul offense easily had its best offensive performance last week as they scored a season-high 34 points in a 34-14 win over Northwest of Hughesville, a school that played 8-man last year.
Richard said the St. Paul offense centers around Tyler Bradehoeft, who can run and throw.
“He’s a multi-dimensional kid,” he said. “They’re going to put him in the shotgun and they’re going to run some wing-T. He’s going to run a lot of different looks and try to get that kid the ball in space where he can make plays. Hopefully we can contain him and slow him down.”
While the Orrick defense was shutting out its fourth opponent this season, the Bearcat rushing game was in its usual real estate chewing mode as they ended the night with 348 yards.
Once again, Aaron Blyth ran for 175 yards with Logan Eubank gaining 82 more.
In last year’s 61-0 Orrick win, the Saints threw a lot of 7-man fronts at the Bearcats in an attempt to slow down the ground game, however, Orrick rumbled for 415 rushing yards.
Richard said he expects to see long-time Saints Coach Larry Laubenstein go with a 6-man front this season.
“I think he will probably stay with what he knows and that’s the 6-man,” Richard said. “We’ve seen it two or three times this year and hopefully we can do a good job against it. On offense, it all comes down to getting off the ball and controlling the line of scrimmage.”