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The Daily Register - Harrisburg, IL
  • Prep Football: Combining Ingredients

  • Columbia mixes looks of Marion, Benton into offensive formations
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  • A little bit of Benton, a little bit of Marion.
    That's the mixture and combination of what Jason Roper expects to get when his team goes up against Columbia Saturday in the second round of the IHSA Class 4A playoffs.
    Columbia (9-1) out of the Cahokia Conference is a relatively unknown opponent for the seventh year Bulldog head coach as his team is looking to escape the second round of the postseason for the first time since the state championship season of 2000.
    Columbia, who knocked off Mt. Carmel last week 57-22 in the first round of the playoffs, did so by getting four touchdown scores from Eric Read, who scored on a punt return, caught a touchdown pass, ran for a score and returned an interception for a TD.
    The crux of what Columbia does however is more than just one person.
    The Eagles, who like to run offensive sets out of the spread formation, will give Harrisburg a look to something they have seen with Marion and Benton this season.
    Quarterback Logan Santanello has passed for over 700 yards this year and has nine TD's. But the converted running back is more of a threat out of the pocket, where he has picked up 600 yards on the ground on 55 carries with 10 touchdowns.
    Countering Santanello is Columbia running back Charles Farris has 23 touchdowns this year with more than 1,600 yards on the ground.
    For all intent and purposes that will be Roper's point of emphasis come Saturday.
    "When it comes to Santanello, I really see him as being more of a running threat than a throwing threat," he said. "Our job will be to contain him and keep him in the pocket.
    "I feel like Santanello is a lot like Benton's (Matt Buntin) as far as running the ball," Roper added. "Santanello is a little bigger and a little better and he's a senior, where as Benton's kid is a junior. I would compare the (Farris kid) to Dylan Sheeks at Benton and a little bit of like the Henry Jones kid at Marion. All three have the ability to cut and do some things with their speed. All three are also good blockers."
    Roper added that when in spread formation on offense, they're more likely to actually run the ball as opposed to throwing the ball, which Roper agreed make them a "real threat."
    "It's going to be a challenge for us. No doubt," he said. "Being in the spread offense, with a running back and quarterback that can both run, is going to pose a problems.
    They have real big splits on offense, so we're going to have to do a good job of tackling in space, wrapping up. Their running back is a guy who can break tackles and their quarterback has excellent speed."
    Page 2 of 2 - If there is a positive for Roper and the Bulldogs, the head coach believes the strength of his offensive and defensive lines could give Columbia fits Saturday at 2 p.m.
    "We may have a slight edge as far as size on the offensive line, but as far skill players, their quarterback is very similar to Ryne (Roper), their running back is similar to Dylan (Hathaway) and their wide receiver is similar to Capel (Henshaw). I think in a way, as far as size, speed, ability, we are very comparable. For us on offense, we just have to keep moving the ball on offense and not shoot ourselves in the foot. Keeping the ball away from them is going to be a big key."
    Michael Dann can be reached at hbgsports@dailyregister.com. Follow him on Twitter @spydieshooter.

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