Jason Roper doesn't mind a distraction every now and then, but when that distractions drags on for a week, the seventh year head football coach has to take a step back and in doing so, brings his football team with him.
"It's important for us not to get caught up in all the homecoming festivities that are going on this week," Roper said as his Bulldogs prepare for another Ohio Division showdown, this time with West Frankfort Friday night at 7 p.m. at Taylor Field.
"We're really working hard right now to make a strong push to the playoffs, but at the same time, we have three really tough games left to go. A lot can happen and this is not the time of the year when I want my guys losing focus.
"Homecoming is always a distraction, but I think our kids know that our job as a football team is to win the football game. It makes homecoming a lot more enjoyable when you do win your homecoming, so hopefully our kids will come out and play well."
West Frankfort, has just one win in the Ohio Division of the River-To-River Conference this season and is 2-4 overall.
Roper, in his tenure as a head coach is 5-1 against West Frankfort and the Bulldogs are 9-3 against the Redbirds since their state championship season of 2000. Harrisburg won 48-14 at West Frankfort a year ago and has outscored WF 177-47 over the last four matchups.
After three straight wins to open up conference play, Roper eluded that he doesn't expect much to change in their scheme against the Redbirds.
"I thought against Herrin are offensive line did a real good job," he said. "That's as good as we have executed all year as far as not having penalties that have killed drives. I thought overall, in all three phases of the game, we played pretty good. I expect the same kind of effort this week against West Frankfort."
With what good be a potential matchup of two undefeated teams and the battle for outright conference champions between Harrisburg and Benton next week, Roper stresses the importance of "getting a week better."
"Next week's game against Benton is going to be huge for us," Roper said. "We have to come out and get a week better as we're playing two good teams in West Frankfort and Benton.
Michael Dann can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow him on Twitter @spydieshooter.