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The Orrick Bearcats begin the second phase of their drive to repeat as Class 1 champions Friday night as they open district play hosting Wentworth Military Academy.
Coach Pat Richard’s Cats have been at the top of the rankings since the first week and will carry plenty of momentum into Friday’s 7 p.m. kickoff at Simmons Field.
Orrick has posted four straight shutouts – and five overall. The Bearcats gave up a fourth period touchdown to Wellington-Napoleon in the third week and a fourth-period touchdown to Sweet Springs in the season opener.
Wentworth is coming off a 42-20 loss last week at Lone Jack. The Dragons trailed 14-6 at the half, but the Mules erupted for 21 points in the third quarter.
Wentworth got three touchdown passes from Jose Del-Hoyo – two of them to Brad Simms for 26 and 15 yards, and one for 53 yards to Anthony Grosso.
Richard expects the Dragons, 1-6, to test the Bearcat secondary Friday night.
“I think they will probably throw the ball as much or more than anybody we’ll probably see this year,” he said. “I think that’s great for us. We need the work against the passing game and we’re going to get that. I know our kids are looking forward to it.”
Richard adds that it will help his team prepare for any possible meeting with teams featuring the spread offense.
So far this season, the Bearcats have been pretty good at stopping the opponents passing attack. The Orrick secondary has picked off 11 passes with Jimmy Bilton leading the way with 4 – 3 of those coming in one game, while Aaron Blyth has 3 interceptions.
“People are trying to find the weak spot,” Richard said. “They’re throwing at different corners and every time they’re tested, I think our defensive backs do a good job of stepping up and making plays and getting interceptions.”
Meanwhile the Bearcat pass rush has recorded 14 sacks for a loss of 103 yards.
Leslee Eubank leads the sack parade with 5 for a loss of 45 yards, and Jordyn Butler has added 4 sacks for a loss of 23 yards.
Of course the Orrick offense has helped the defense by jumping out to early leads and forcing the opponents out of their game plans and to the air.
“It seems like the last few weeks we’ve been operating on short fields all the time and that’s good,” Richard added. “Anytime your defense is playing that well, you’re going to get a lot of short fields and quick scores.”
The Orrick offense has averaged 322 rushing yards a game and as a result of big leads early, have not had to put the ball in the air.
However, Richard is comfortable with having quarterback Joe Kaufman throwing the ball if needed.
“Joe has the ability that when we need him to throw, he’s going to do a good job,” he said. “The great thing about our offense is that when we do throw, they’re going to be open. People aren’t going to be able to defend the pass very well against us because they have to commit to stopping our running game.”
Richard added that he has seen as many as 10 in the box in an attempt to stop the Bearcat running attack.