The Orrick Bearcats begin what they hope will be a third straight trip to the Show-Me Bowl in St. Louis at 7 tonight when they host a familiar foe. For the second consecutive year, the Bearcats will host Maysville in the Class 1 Sectional at Simmons Field. Last year, Orrick had very little trouble with the Wolverines of the Grand River Conference as the Bearcats built a 38-0 lead before the game was called due to lightning with 4:19 left in the third period.
Maysville finished as the runner-up in District 14 by winning the tiebreaker among Polo and Gallatin.
“We thought they were going to get in, but I don’t know what happened to them last Thursday,” Orrick Coach Pat Richard said. “They beat Gallatin and looked pretty good in shutting them out. They looked pretty good against Hamilton for about the first quarter and then the walls caved in, and then last week lost to Polo. It’s hard to get a good read on them.”
Maysville is a young team after losing a lot of seniors to graduation from last year’s squad. There are five seniors, with 13 juniors, nine sophomores and nine freshmen on the 2009 version of the Wolverines.
Senior Jeremy Noland is the leading rusher with 831 yards and 8 touchdowns. Junior quarterback Caine Birkenholz has completed 22 of 74 passes for 301 yards, 3 touchdowns and 7 interceptions.
Maysville has averaged just over 14 points a game this season.
Richard said he looks for Maysville Coach Greg O’Connor to mix up his attack.
“He’s very multiple with his offense,” he said. “He can run the split-back veer and then go to the shotgun and throw it. That presents a problem defensively and that’s good for us because it gets us used to playing against a lot of different sets and make adjustments.”
One of goals Richard sets each season is to have his team improve from week to week. His Bearcats have done that again this season, especially the last three weeks as they outscored their district opponents 141-0. Richard said he has really been pleased with how his front lines have played on offense and defense the last two weeks.
“We’re playing better up front, and last week was the first time all year that our defensive linemen have led us in tackles,” he explained. “Last year we were pretty consistent and that’s the key. We were having those guys make a lot of plays on defense last year and we did that this last game.”
Richard expects to see a five-man front from the Maysville defense tonight, with a few more Wolverines thrown up front from time to time. However, that is something the Bearcats have faced most of the year and Richard said the offensive line will have to play well again.
St. Mary’s put a lot of defenders in the box Friday night and the Bearcats responded with five plays over 20 yards.
“Offensively, we made some big plays and that’s because we are finally getting off the ball and getting into people and running them around the field,” Richard said. “If we can continue to get better doing that again tonight, we’ll be OK.”
Orrick had a lot of success with the fullback trap against the Trojans with Kalija Rogers scoring on runs of 55, 33, 19 and 38 yards on his way to a 163-yard night. The senior fullback ran for 122 yards on 17 attempts in last year’s meeting with Maysville.