The Daily Register - Harrisburg, IL
  • Prep Football: Looking to keep rolling

  • Bulldogs going for third straight conference win Friday at Herrin
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  • With a lot of momentum behind them, Harrisburg enters Friday night’s game against Herrin looking to settle a score.
    The Tiger edged the Bulldogs 21-19 a year ago. But it isn’t just Herrin that has revenge on the mind of the ‘Dogs.
    Harrisburg won all but one of their last four games down the stretch last year to finish 5-5 before entering the Class 3A playoffs.
    This time around Harrisburg is looking to be on the other end of the spectrum.
    The Tigers are 1-1 in Southern Illinois River-to-River Conference play, giving Benton all they could handle two weeks ago, while soundly dispatching West Frankfort last week.
    On the flip side, the Bulldogs are rolling right along with back-to-back wins against Murphysboro and Massac County.
    Harrisburg head coach Jason Roper says that while the Tigers are not real big in size, the overall team speed is a concern for the seventh year head coach.
    “They have kids that are physical and quick; good tacklers. As far as athletes are concerned, they are comparable to just about anyone in our conference. They’re still young, but they have very good team speed.”
    As it seems with most teams, especially in the SIRR Ohio Division, Harrisburg faces an offensive look very similar to theirs.
    “They show a two tight end set, they have a three-back threat and they like to throw the ball,” Roper said. “It’s going to be a situation where it’s going to come down to us being able to defend the spread a little bit better.”
    Against West Frankfort last week, Herrin threw the ball nearly 20 times. Austin Starkweather returned to the lineup after missing much of the opening part of the season due to back problems. The Tiger offense got a big boost from Starkweather when Herrin trailed Benton 18-0, before the senior became unleashed and passed for 312 yards in a 36-30 loss to the Rangers.
    Roper doesn’t expect to produce the same outcome.
    “I think for us, for our mentality, we’ll want to establish the run. We’ll hve to try to open it up and throw the ball some and do some things in our passing game, but it’s things we’re not doing or haven’t been doing if we want to beat some of the teams we’re not supposed to beat.”
    Last week at West Frankfort, Herrin got another boost to its offense when sophomore running back Chase Merrill returned from missing time due to an injury. He gives the Tigers much needed speed and has game-breaker capability. Austin Butler, the only returning starter and senior for Herrin, scored three times in the Tigers' 35-20 win over West Frankfort.
    Page 2 of 2 - Michael Dann can be reached at hbgsports@dailyregister.com. Follow him on Twitter @spydieshooter.
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