The Daily Register - Harrisburg, IL
  • Prep Football: Dictating The Tempo

  • Bulldogs look to control clock, Wildcats
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  • In what can be considered a changing of the guard when it comes to the recent success Harrisburg has had against last week's opponent Du Quoin in recent years, one mountain on the Bulldogs schedule has consistently prevented them from achieving the top.
    Marion, who currently holds a six-game winning streak against Harrisburg, invades Taylor Field Friday night, looking to once again flex their muscle.
    The Wildcats (1-1) were the lone team to knock off the Bulldogs a season ago, as the 5A southern Illinois powerhouse has shown little in terms of slowing down.
    Kerry Martin, who this past spring was inducted into the Illinois High School Football Coaches Association Hall of Fame, has been a high school head football coach for 23 seasons.
    He has been at Marion for the last 11 years and has compiled a 73-44 record with eight consecutive playoff appearances, a Marion High School record.
    Harrisburg head coach Jason Roper was a one-time assistant coach for Martin at Marion. In his time at Harrisburg, wins against the Wildcats have been hard to come by.
    Roper's scheme this season won't be any different than it has in recent years with an emphasis on time management.
    "I think they'll come out and push it really quick," Roper said of the Marion offense. "We're going to have to combat that by slowing it down and see if we can manage the game that way."
    In the 498 yards gained on offense this year for Harrisburg, 440 of that has come on the ground.
    On the flip side, Harrisburg has given up 465 yards on defense in its two games against Mt. Carmel and Du Quoin.
    The Bulldogs have allowed 275 on the ground and given up 190 through the air.
    Marion rushed for 306 against Mattoon a week ago and passed for 261 in a 57-43 victory against the Green Wave.
    "On film against Mattoon they looked athletic and they looked quick," Roper said. "I thought losing their quarterback last year (Matt Lewis), they would take a hit there, but (Brant Hill) seems to be doing a real nice job of throwing the football. I thought he ran the ball well too, which is something that Marion has not done in the past."
    As a byproduct of Marion now using a rushing quarterback and becoming a dual threat on offense, Roper admitted to the problems that presents in terms of defense.
    "As far as depth and personnel goes. It's going to be a tough matchup for us. Our kids are going to have to play really well and keep the ball away from them to be successful."
    A much needed win against the Indians last week gave Roper's Bulldogs some much needed confidence after a season opening loss to Mt. Carmel Week 1.
    Page 2 of 2 - Still with a lot of inexperience for Harrisburg, Roper's primary concern is getting better week-by-week.
    "It's going to come down to getting a week better regardless of who we are playing," he said. "I think Marion is a challenge for us, but will make us better win or lose."
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