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The Daily Register - Harrisburg, IL
  • Prep Football: All Or Nothing

  • Bulldogs looking for win to keep playoff hopes alive
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  • A lot of variables could come into play Friday night.
    Aside from it being homecoming at Harrisburg this week, it's also senior night at Taylor Field. Compound that with a key conference ballgame on the line, not to mention a playoff spot, Harrisburg will have a lot of its plate.
    The most important however to Harrisburg head coach Jason Roper is none of the above. The seventh year head coach is looking to rebound from what was a stagnate performance offensively last week at Benton.
    "We have to move the ball better than we have and better than we did last week," Roper said. "Weather was a factor — for both teams — but give Benton credit, they executed it better than we did. We just turned the ball over and probably the biggest thing I came away with from last week was field position. We had our backs against the wall the whole night. The turnovers we had in the second half, just killed us. Hopefully we can execute better."
    Harrisburg has had success against Murphysboro — and a lot of it.
    Roper has never lost to the Red Devils, who have dropped 17 straight ballgames to Harrisburg.
    Harrisburg had to come from behind to win at Murphysboro last year in a conference opener 28-25 and while the Bulldogs are 2-1 at home this year they are also in danger of missing the playoffs for the first time in six season and just the second time in the past eight years.
    "I think right now looking at our schedule and what we have left, it's a must win game," Roper said. "I think every game from here on out is a playoff game. It's a game where we need to try to enjoy the homecoming activities, but at the same time, not let that be a distraction and affect our play."
    The Red Devils come in averaging nearly 23 points a game on offense and are giving up the same amount on defense.
    Harrisburg is scoring a little under 18 points a contest while surrendering just over three touchdowns a game on average.
    The Bulldogs will also be sending off 18 seniors, hopefully in style with a win. Roper knows that focus and determination will be vital.
    "Murphysboro is very good offensively. They do a lot of misdirection on offense and really they are in a similar situation we are in. They need a win to stay playoff hopeful. So we'll have to be focused and key in on our assignments. More than anything, I hope we have a good crowd here at home."

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