The Daily Register - Harrisburg, IL
  • Prep Football: One Last Chance

  • Bulldogs must win at Carbondale to make playoffs for sixth straight season
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  • For Jason Roper and the Harrisburg High School football team, defining tonight's matchup against Carbondale is simple.
    Win or go home.
    The Bulldogs and their eighth year head coach are 4-4, needing that fifth win to qualify for the postseason.
    On the same hand, Carbondale is also 4-4 as the Terriers look to make the playoffs under first year head coach Nick Hill.
    Carbondale started the season 3-0, but has lost three straight heading into this Week 9 matchup, including a 32-19 loss to Marion last week.
    Harrisburg was shutout last week at Herrin, and the Bulldogs come in scoring just over 16.5 points a game. HHS is giving up a little over 23 points per game on defense.
    In Harrisburg's favor is the fact that Jason Roper is 6-1 all-time against Carbondale. Roper is 46-34 and is currently in his 8th year as head coach.
    The Terriers last made the playoffs in 2011 under then head coach Dan Koester.
    Hill, a former Du Quoin High School and SIU standout, came on board as the team's offensive coordinator this spring, but was promoted to the top position after the sudden resignation of Koester, who coached the team for five seasons.
    The bad for the Bulldogs, aside from playing a South Seven opponent to close out the 2013 campaign is the fact that Harrisburg is 1-3 on the road this year, while the Terriers are 2-1.
    Roper knows his squad will have to play its best football in the final week to become playoff eligible.
    We just have to go out, execute, play our best game and see what happens," he said. "Carbondale is in the same boat we are and playing at their place, it's definitely going to be a tough game for us. They are twice our enrollment, they've played a tough schedule and have some very skilled athletes. They are going to give us some matchup problems we're going to have handle."
    The Terriers are led by three-year starter at quarterback Nick Hoffman, who has completed 61 percent of his passes, going 202-for-124 for 1841 yards and 19 touchdowns with just one interception.
    Carbondale is averaging over 31 points per game on offense and are surrendering 22.6 points per contest on defense.
    Trying to put behind him a 40-0 loss at Herrin a week ago, Roper feels the Herrin game was not a true indicator of how good his ballclub his.
    "They're very good defensively," Roper said. "That's one thing that goes unnoticed or coaches like myself given them enough credit for. They shut out Benton, they shut out Murphysboro and they shut us out. They've been very sound and physical. Give them credit, they took the game away from us right off the bat.
    "I think we learned a lot of things from that game that should help us in our preparation for Carbondale.
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