After dodging a bullet last week against Concordia, Orrick will face another team from Concordia Friday night as the Bearcats take on St. Paul in an I-70 Conference road test.
The top-ranked Bearcats scored the game winner last week with 22 seconds left in the game to keep their 35-game winning streak intact.
Meanwhile, the Saints were chalking up a 44-22 drubbing of Northwest of Hughesville. St. Paul has won its last two games and will bring a 1-2 league record and 3-3 overall mark into the 7 p.m. kickoff.
Orrick Coach Pat Richard knows his team will get a good test from the Saints and their long-time coach Larry Laubenstein.
“He’s a good coach, and a good man and he’ll have them ready to play,” Richard said. “They might not have had the best talent the last few years, but he’s done a good job of coaching them and getting every bit he can out of them. They probably have more talent this year than in the past few.”
Richard remembers his Bearcats had to drive the length of the field in the game’s final moments to pull out a 21-20 victory in 2006. He expects the Saints to try the same things Concordia did last week as the Orioles rolled up 467 yards against the Bearcat defense.
“St. Paul will be running the pistol offense with two wings similar to what Concordia ran,” Richard said. “I think it’s another good test for us. We need to see if we’ve gotten better this week and it’s a question that will get answered Friday night.”
Richard adds the whole week of preparation for his Bearcats has focused on improving the performance on both sides of the football. As a result of the successful Concordia ground game that picked up 375 yards, the Orrick offense was held to 292 rushing yards.
“They did a good job of controlling the clock,” he said. “They pounded the ball on us and frustrated us a lot – like we do to other people – and we can’t allow that.”
As for the St. Paul defense, Richard said he expects to see as many as nine players in the box to slow down the Bearcat rushing offense and force Orrick to throw.
“It’s something we need to keep working on,” he said. “For us, working on the passing game is throwing it five or six times. If we can do that, we can move people out of the box on us and I know Clayton (Jones) can do it. He can throw the ball well, we’ve just got to get him in spots where he can be successful and the guys have to catch the ball.”
The Bearcats went to the air just three times last week but the two receptions, both by Aaron Blyth, resulted in touchdowns with the final one being the game winner on a 45-yard hook up.
Richard said he has seen a marked improvement in his line during the week and adds if the line can improve, that will keep opponents from grinding the ball on them and give his offense more plays.
“We’ve got to execute better and be better with our techniques,” he said. “We’ll find out Friday if we’ve practiced good enough, and if we’ve done the things we can do to get better.”