The Daily Register - Harrisburg, IL
  • Prep Football: Trying To Get Back On Track

  • Bulldogs look to rebound from Week 1 loss to Mt. Carmel with victory over Du Quoin
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  • On the Rebound.
    That's the Harrisburg football team in a nutshell after Week 1's beatdown by Mt. Carmel at the Snake Pit.
    And if it's a win that cures what ails the Bulldogs just one week into the 2013 prep football season, Du Quoin could prove to be the best opponent.
    The Bulldogs have won four straight in the series with the Indians, who are coming off a 44-0 loss to Highland last week.
    Still, Harrisburg head coach Jason Roper (4-3 all time against Du Quoin and 43-21 overall) realizes that the past means very little when dealing with his current crop of Bulldogs.
    "We have to execute better," Roper said. "It comes down to blocking and tackling. At times, I thought we would have a big play or at least the potential for a big play was there and we just didn't do certain things very well.
    "The blocks weren't there. We didn't tackle very well, as well as we should. I don't know if that comes down to inexperience, but hopefully that is something we can improve on."
    Inexperience is something that has been well documented for this particular group of Bulldogs, who returned all but three returners on defense from last year's Class 4A semifinal playoff team and just two to three returners on offense.
    As for the Indians, Du Quoin has just three returning starters off a team that finished 9-3 a year ago, before falling to Camp Point Central Southeastern in the 2A quarterfinals.
    Roper hinted at going back to the proverbial drawing board in preparing for Du Quoin.
    "Everybody's position is wide open and you start all over," he said. "I think competition for position is the greatest motivator out there and I think right now, not winning this past week opens up some spots for some guys. Hopefully that will push them. We'll see what happens."
    As for it being a must-win ballgame for the Bulldogs, Roper didn't exactly dismiss that theory.
    "Every game on our schedule is a must win. I'm sure Du Quoin is thinking the same thing. Both of us are 0-1 and when you look at the schedule down the road you see some tough ballgames in front of you. I think every game from here on out is a must-win. I like that aspect of our schedule that every game is important, tough and counts.
    "Our schedule is what it is," Roper said. "All we can do is try to improve regardless of who we're playing and we knew we were inexperienced coming into this season. Hopefully as we go along we'll gain some experience and execute a lot better."
    Du Quoin didn't complete a pass and struggled offensively — similar to Harrisburg — in their loss at Highland, facing a team that in many regards mirrored Mt. Carmel as far as being big and physical.
    Page 2 of 2 - "If I know coach (Al) Martin, he is going to work hard on execution," Roper said. We're going to have to come out and do a better job ourselves."
    The Indians also are playing for some pride in what is longtime Du Quoin head coach Al Martin's final season. Martin has spent the last 26 years roaming the sidelines, racking up a combined 247-56 record.
    Martin has won two state championships with the Indians and has finished second on four occasions.
    Michael Dann can be reached at mdann@dailyregister.
    Twitter: @spydieshooter
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