At the surface, Friday night’s game between visiting Dixon and Morris is a battle of 1-2 teams. Dig deeper and it almost becomes a must-win game for both teams if either the Dukes or Redskins have ambitions of making the playoffs.
“It will be a really good challenge, but hopefully we’ll come out and play good and start a winning streak,” Morris quarterback Griffin Sobol said.
Dixon will head to Morris on Friday night having won its opener against Monmouth 36-14 but losing to Rochelle (44-0) and Yorkville (24-14).
“I think the big key to stopping them is for us to play to our potential,” Morris coach Alan Thorson said. “No disrespect to them, but right now our biggest enemy has been ourselves this year. If we can cut out the mistakes on both sides of the ball and make good tackles like we did Week 2, stay on our blocks and execute the way I know the kids are capable of, then I know we’ll be OK.”
The way Morris has struggled at times this year on both sides of the ball, getting off to a good start would seem a big key to getting a win.
“I think it’s very important,” Sobol said. “Especially at home I think we’re going to come out ready and will show some heart this week.”
“We need a fast start. We can’t wait around to get going for two or three quarters,” Thorson said. “We need to come out and from the first play to the last play, play good football.”
The Dukes defense tend to run a 4-2 while bringing the heat on the quarterback, Sobol said.
“They like to send everyone. They’ll send the kitchen sink,” he said. “They like to blitz. Middle linebacker and the corners.”
Which means the Redskins will be looking for quick striking plays at the line of scrimmage.
“We have some audibles we are putting in this week and we’ve been working on short passes. Hopefully that works,” Sobol said. “Let’s just say that if they send everybody we have a pass going to places where nobody is there.”
Regardless, Thorson said he wants to see his offense have a balanced attack.
“Offensively, we want a good balance,” he said. “We want to be able to run and pass. We need to sustain drives and avoid the three and outs.”
On offense, the Dukes seem to go as far as the passing game takes them. The quarterback of Dixon is J.D. Gleeson and he has completed 39-of-70 passes for 406 yards and three touchdowns this fall. His favorite targets are: Matt Coffey (13-149); Kyle LeBlanc (10-169); Quinton Douglas (8-111); Ryan Webb (7-53) and Cody Mighell (1-24).
“Watching them on film, they definitely put the ball in the air a lot. Our coverage is going to have to be sound,” Thorson said. “Our defensive line is also going to have to get a pass rush this week. I think we saw good things out of the pass rush in Week 2, so hopefully we get good plays out of them.”
Gleeson also is Dixon’s leading rusher having 39 carries for 238 yards and four touchdowns. Douglass and Coffey have 15 and 14 carries, respectively.
On the injury front, Trevor Allbert is the only Morris player out after hurting his hand in last week’s game.
“It gives guys like Chase Hansen, Josh Hulbert, Jon West and Tyler Post a chance to play,” Thorson said. “They are going to be the ones who have to step up and make plays.”
Something Thorson is looking for from his entire team, actually.
“Any time any team loses that’s important,” he said. “Regardless of our record right now, these kids have worked hard and it means a lot to them. Whenever you lose a game, they are going to get down.
“So, for them to come out and be successful at home is huge for these kids and the program. If nothing else to get the kids on the right track and heading into the direction we need to go.”