The Daily Register - Harrisburg, IL
  • Prep Football: Know Your Scheme

  • Harrisburg's defense dialed in to making Bulldogs contender during playoffs
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  • As Harrisburg marches on in the IHSA Class 4A football playoffs this week, the Bulldogs' defense is setting the tone, in a dominant tune that is starting to catch on among other teams.
    Herrin got a loud dose of Harrisburg's D on Saturday when the Bulldogs barked their way to limiting the Tigers to 12 yards of offense in the first half, but also was responsible for a touchdown and a safety late in the game.
    Herrin finished with just 29 rushing yards on 21 attempts and seven first downs, many of which came against the 'Dogs second team. Herrin didn't reach Bulldog territory at Taylor Field until 2:00 to go in the fourth quarter.
    Herrin's initial first down didn't come until the second quarter and Harrisburg forced three turnovers.
    There's no doubt that was one of the many things that impressed head coach Jason Roper.
    "When our first group was in there and to me that was the most impressive thing.," he said Monday. "The pressure we were able to put on them really affected them and our defense is playing pretty good right now, but we know we are going to have our hands full Saturday."
    Harrisburg will once against host at home when they welcome Columbia (9-1) Saturday at 2 p.m.
    Columbia knocked off Mt. Carmel 57-22 this past Saturday, while the Bulldogs are looking to advance to the second round of the playoffs since the state championship season of 2000.
    In 2005, the last time Harrisburg won a playoff game, that team ended up losing to Anna-Jonesboro in the second round.
    Since a 48-13 loss to Marion in Week 3 of this past season, Harrisburg's defense has given up 91 points and are averaging 13 points per game.
    That could play to be beneficial as the Eagles (winners of the Cahokia Conference) come in averaging 45 points on offense.
    It's a battle Roper feels his players are well prepared for.
    "We are getting into some things where we are moving around and I feel like we are defending the spread a lot better because we able to get into some different looks and move people around. We can bring pressure from different places.
    "To do that our kids have to be smart and know our scheme and be able to execute it. Give them credit, they've been able to do that and it's been effective."
    To that notion, Roper believes there was a big lesson to be learned from that Marion loss.
    "We were unable to do that against Marion," Roper said. "It's something that we've learned from since that point on. We have a very smart, talented bunch, that as good as they are always wants to get better."
    Michael Dann can be reached at hbgsports@dailyregister.com. Follow him on Twitter @spydieshooter.
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