Saturday, October 15, 2011

North Drives Over South.

Would Tri-County North have emotion enough left in their gas tank after their big win over Miami East for this week’s game against rival Twin Valley South? It can be tough to keep a team focused and driven over the course of a two and half month long season. And even though the two teams records were opposite of each other, North at 5-2 and South at 2-5 there have been times over the years where the underdog has upset the favored team. So it had the potential of being a trap game for North if they overlooked South. With a wet field and sporadic rain, you had to wonder if turnovers would a factor and that would be a way for South to hang with North – if they could force some fumbles and get good field position.

North put the game into the hands of fullback Michael Olinger and his raging bull running style. They ran in between the tackles into the teeth of the South defense. And South could not find an answer. At least not in the first quarter as Olinger rampaged thru the South defense for 3 touchdowns in the first quarter. In the game he had 2 more touchdowns called back for penalties or he would have done even more damage. As it was he had 198 yards for the night.

There were plenty of turnovers – but it was the North defense causing South to cough up the ball. Unofficially I had South tossing up 5 interceptions and giving up two fumbles. And the first fumble was a heart breaker in two different ways. South did a fake punt and Dillon Ashley carried the ball for a first down. But as he went for extra yardage, he took a hard shot to the helmet and crumpled in a heap as the ball squirted away and was fallen upon by a North player. So that stopped the drive and senior Ashley – who missed the first few games of the season due to injury, continued his hard luck season having to watch the remainder of the game from the bench.

Rounding out the scoring for North was JJ MacPherson -14 yard run, Austin Hutchins – interception returned for a TD, and Caleb Lawson – 90 yard TD. South got on the board as a gritty Zane Cottingim caught a pass for a nice 25 yard gain to put South in the redzone. Then he finished the job a few plays later when he scampered into the endzone from 5 yards out. South came close to scoring a second time but a fumble on the North three yard line ended that threat. That was the theme all night for the South offense – when it looked like they would put together a drive, a turnover or penalty would kill it. At the last whistle the score was 41-6 in favor of North.

“When you have 7 turnovers in a game you are not going to win that game,” stated South Coach Engleka after the game. “North’s Olinger scored pretty easily on their opening drive, and we wanted to answer. We put together a nice 17 play drive but then threw an interception in the endzone. Then when we did the fake punt we gained 16 yards on that play and fumbled. Turnovers hit us at the worst possible times.”

Zane Cottingim had a good night for South though – “On defense he has a nose for the ball and is in on every tackle. He has good instincts but knows his defensive keys, he is a real leader us on defense. And when Ashley was hurt we had to use him on offense – he played running back and slot receiver. Also Darin Brown had a good night with 8 tackles at cornerback and 3 receptions for 38 yards at receiver. Dylan Steffey, on offensive line performed well for us. We talk to kids about going from whistle to whistle – well he went from whistle to the echo of the whistle in my opinion it was his best night of the year. “

On South’s game against Miami East, “Miami East and North have similar offense’s and defense’s so we are going to see the same schemes as we did against North. I think they are the biggest team physically in the league and we are going to have to prepare to be ready for that. Last I looked they were number 9 in the playoffs –a bubble team and we want to take that from them.”

I asked Coach Derringer if North had any concerns going into the game, “We were more worried about the spread offense – we just don’t see that in this league. And we were worried about getting our linebackers set up correctly. We ran them a little wider and then came up with blitz packages against different formations. And we were worried about their running game, Cole Cottingim can be dangerous.”

On the game, “We wanted to establish the running game as we had seen how they had problems with Ansonia and a few other teams. Michael Olinger had a great game for us. But the penalties really hurt, he should have had two more scores. We will work on eliminating penalties this week. And the defense was just exceptional. Billy Derringer had 2 interceptions, Austin Hutchins had one interception for a TD, and Sam Judd had a big interception to stop a TVS drive in the endzone. Josh Daughtery and JJ MacPherson had 14 tackles and Jake Schlater had 2 sacks. On the offensive side of the ball Caleb Lawson had 7 carries for 134 yards and Austin Hutchins was 4-13 with just 49 yards. So our passing was not successful as it has been in the past. But we counted 6 dropped balls – if we could have caught those we would have had over 100 yards passing. Right now Austin stands at about 850 yards, with two games left in the season – we are thinking that he will break 1000 yards passing.“

Next week North goes against Trail - another school using the spread offense. Coach Derringer plans to switch up his defenses and give them a different look in the secondary. Offensively things shouldn’t change much – maybe a few less penalties...

The picture - North's Sam Judd gets cartwheeled by South's Zane Cottingim.
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