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The Daily Register - Harrisburg, IL
  • Prep Football: Time to flip the switch

  • Football returns to Southern Illinois under the Friday Night Lights
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  • Like any coach, Harrisburg's Jason Roper has more questions about his Bulldog bunch than he does likely answers.
    For the sixth year football coach, as his Harrisburg team kicks off the season at Taylor Field against Mt. Carmel, Roper's biggest concern comes on defense and the placement of players.
    "Where are we going to put some people? How well are they going to play in those positions? We really still have some question marks going into the week as far as starting people."
    Roper states that while practices have been good and upbeat, heading into the season opener Friday night,a he's been putting a lot of emphasis on just how important playing good special teams and defense is going to be.
    " Right now, we have worked a lot on offense and I think that's the case with just about anybody," he said. "Going into the season, you're trying to get your timing down on offense and execute to move the football.
    "Our kickers have been kicking and our snappers have been snapping. But as far as getting the kickoff team ready to go and getting everyone in the right running lanes are things we still need to work on."
    Mt. Carmel lost in the IHSA Class 3A finals a year ago to Aurora Christian and enter this season as a 4A school. Harrisburg walked into the Snake Pit a year ago and pulled out a victory, but as far as beating the Aces at Taylor Field, the Bulldogs are looking for a win that hasn't happened since the 2004 season.
    Harrisburg went 4-5 that year, a season in which was current assistant coach Greg Langley's last season as head coach. Al Way took over for one more year (2005), before Roper was hired in 2006.
    Roper added that he doesn't know much about Mt. Carmel other than some coaching chatter.
    "They have some smaller lineman and they have a really good junior quarterback and the word is they are going to throw the ball a lot more."
    Like most Mt. Carmel teams, the Aces will show multiple formations and likely stick to their base offense, which is a wing-slot offense.
    That in itself compounds Roper's problems in regards to where he is going to put people at on defense.
    "They're going to line up and try to power us and they're going to line up and try to spread the field on us," he said. "When they do that, you kind of want different personnel in there in certain situations and we're trying to figure out how we're going to rotate certain people and have the right people in the right spots.
    "Having a quarterback that can run the option and throw the football is going to create some problems. We're going to have to prepare for a little bit of everything."
    Page 2 of 2 - If nothing else, Harrisburg could have some confidence going against Mt. Carmel, knowing that they beat them a year ago and virtually didn't graduate many people in certain skill positions.
    "That's the one thing going into this game that our kids need to understand. Confidence can be very contagious and we just hope it catches on Week 1."
    Michael Dann can be reached at hbgsports@dailyregister.com. Follow him on twitter @spydieshooter.
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