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Rivalry game opens NLC season for Rockies

September 2, 2020
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PLYMOUTH – Two losses on the road have the Plymouth Rockies looking forward to their home opener, kind of.
While lining up against two very good football teams on the road to start the season, they will have their hands full coming back home Friday night with another very good team in Warsaw. It’s also the opening night of NLC action with a historical rivalry that has been even more heated the past few years.
What Plymouth coach John Barron has seen of his team live and on film is puzzling.
“The thing that stands out is that we are a pretty good team,” he said. “I see us getting off the ball on both sides, I see us running to the ball. I see us giving good effort.”
“We have poor execution at times offensively,” said Barron. “We played really good teams. Our guys up front defensively were giving great effort (against Kokomo). Sometimes you are outmatched at certain spots. The frustrating thing is that when our down guys are getting double-teamed they need to get down and create some piles.”
Which didn’t help some difficulties elsewhere on the defense at Kokomo.
“We didn’t tackle the same kid (Plez Lawrence) three times in open space and he scored all three times,” said Barron. “I just don’t like the last two scores, but other than that we gave great effort.”
Offensively the Rockies have been on a roller coaster ride.
“I think the problem with consistency is one caused by the (opponents) we’re playing,” said Barron. “Number two we’ve got some inexperienced kids. I think innately kids go back to what you know. ”
“Inconsistency is a spot-on word for our team right now,” he said. “How do you correct that? I think our kids have to be confident. They have to be in positions that they feel comfortable playing. They have to feel like they own that spot and can compete at that spot. When we get that you will see us have more success on the scoreboard.”
Even with confidence the Tigers will come in with a swagger of their own. Splitting their opening two games they have had no trouble putting up points but have struggled a bit to keep their opponents out of the endzone. It comes back to one thing.
“They are going to run the ball more than they throw it,” said Barron. “They are an option football team. (Warsaw coach) Bart Curtis is already in the Hall of Fame. Everywhere he’s been he’s won. They won the first sectional in school history last year beating Penn.”
“With all that being said it is Warsaw. That’s a little different for the players,” he said. “There are a lot of parents and grandparents on both sides that look forward to this game.”
“They are well-coached,” said Barron. “They fly to the ball on defense. They execute to precision on offense. When they throw the ball, the quarterback will literally take two steps and throw it to one guy because he’s probably open. They look good on film.”
Defending the option is a difficult task for any defense. For Plymouth it comes down to one big key.
“You have to tackle the fullback,” said Barron. “If we don’t tackle the fullback it’s going to be a long night. That’s easier said than done. They give to him in the same manner but they block it. He’s got multiple tracks that he can run – ‘A’ gap, ‘B’ gap, ‘C’ gap, inside or outside. You might get blocked and you might get optioned.”
“It’s hard to defend,” he said. “We typically defend it well because we ran it. But saying that and doing it are two different things. You just have to tackle the dive.”
Getting in the win column will take something that you can’t practice.
“We’d like to play with some confidence,” said Barron. “I’d like to get back to being physical upfront. Being the guys that we’ve seen.”
“I want to see them execute the plays that are called,” he said. “I’d like to see some big plays, and we have some big-play guys. Let’s do our job and score some points.”
It’s also Senior Night at Plymouth Friday night. Kickoff is set for 7 p.m.

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