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The Orrick Bearcats have a little bit of business to take care of before setting their sites on postseason play. Orrick will look to clinch homefield for the Class 1 regional next Wednesday with a win Thursday night over visiting St. Mary’s.
The Trojans will bring a 5-4 record to Simmons Field in the District 13 finale. St. Mary’s has split its first two district contests – dropping a 28-6 decision at Braymer in the first week and then outscoring visiting Wentworth at home Saturday 48-30.
“We’re excited about getting a playoff game at home, but we’ve got to take care of business on Thursday,” Orrick Coach Pat Richard said. “They’re a good football team and the most important thing is that we have to continue to improve. Friday kind of set a new level of expectation for us.”
Richard said last week’s 38-0 dismantling of Braymer was the best performance his team has had all season as the Bearcats gun for their third straight Class 1 title. The Bearcats clicked on both sides of the line with the offense getting 321 yards, while the defense held Braymer to 89. Richard said the offensive and defensive lines got a boost with the return of junior Jordyn Butler who had been out since the first week with a knee injury. Richard said Butler’s return was felt on the practice field as well as the game field.
“It brought some energy to practice,” he said. “He’s such a great practice player and has such a great motor that he brings a new level of expectations to practice. All the other guys responded to him last week and he also brings confidence and brings it back together.”
While Orrick was picking up its second district victory, St. Mary’s had one of its best offensive outings of the season with its win over the Dragons. The Trojans shook off a sluggish first half where they held just a 14-8 cushion over the visitors. The driving force behind St. Mary’s victory was Henry Handley, who ended the evening with 296 yards rushing and 5 touchdowns.
“He’s a heck of an athlete,” Richard said. “He’s very, very fast. He’s a big tall kid who can really run and you have to know where he is on the field at all times. They’ll line him up in the backfield and run him, and then they’ll line him up at wing and run a reverse. They might put him outside and throw him the ball. He’s a huge part of their offense.”
Richard said the Trojan offense can cause some problems because they have two separate ways to attack a defense.
“They line up in shotgun with one back and no backs and throw the ball all over the field, and then they line up in double-tight and power “I” and try to run the ball,” he said. “It’s tough to game plan for both, but I think Bryan (O’Dell, the defensive coordinator) has done a good job of breaking them down so I feel like we’re good as far as the game plan.”
As for the Orrick offense, which has relied on a strong ground game, Richard is confident that if needed he can get good results from the arm of first-year starting quarterback Clayton Jones. Jones has attempted just 15 passes and completed 10 for the season. Seven of those completions have gone for touchdowns including a last-second game winner against Concordia a few weeks ago.
“We don’t throw it very much, and when we do he does a great job of making it effective,” Richard said. “He’s a good threat running the football, too. He’s really done a great job at quarterback and controlling the offense. We’ve had a great year offensively, and he’s a big reason why.”
Jones completed his only pass attempt last week – a 56-yard scoring strike to Turner Twyman, who has hauled in 5 touchdown passes among his 6 total receptions for the season.