Homecoming always seems to have a way of breaking up the mundane and every day of the high school fall season. Sometimes that's a good thing and sometimes it makes football coaches uptight.
Occasionally lost amid the festivities and extra-curricular activities of the week is the fact that there's a football game the Friday night before the annual dance. Considering that this Friday night is also Senior Night at Morris, perhaps the Redskins will be as cautious as ever in trying to quickly take care of its opponent and move on.
Out the Window
The opponent this week for Morris is DeKalb, a team that comes into action with a 1-5 record. That can also be a pitfall for a team playing on Homecoming, but Morris defensive back Jake Hogan said that he doesn't think that will be the case.
"First of all, records have to be thrown out of the equation," he said. "It's not about a team's record. That doesn't matter to us. It's about beating them and by how much."
When DeKalb is on Offense
The offense of the Barbs seems to be the sticking point this week since they do appear to move the ball somewhat efficiently.
Quarterback Jack Sauter has completed 52-of-91 passes (57 percent) for 867 yards and five touchdowns this fall. His top receiver is No. 10 Jake Carpenter and he has 18 catches to this point for 398 yards and three scores. On top of that, running back Dre Brown has run the ball 70 times for 574 yards (8.2 ypc.) and has four TD to his credit.
"They are athletic. They have a nice running back and a couple of nice receivers. They do move the ball fairly well on offense," Morris coach Alan Thorson said. "They have some nice speed. It's going to be another challenge for our defense to stop a good running back and our DBs are going to have to be on their A-game because Carpenter is a good target."
Hogan said that DeKalb throws the ball but that it won't be anything the Redskins defense hasn't seen to this point.
"They like to pass a lot but it doesn't matter. We'll be pumped for homecoming and do the best we can. We usually do pretty good," he said. "They don't throw as much as Dixon but they are going to try and spread us out and then they'll run up the middle."
Hogan also thinks the way to solve the Barbs offense is to mix up the defense.
"We'll probably play equally — man and zone," he said. "We'll be switching it up. Sometimes we'll go man and then switch it up and play zone."
When DeKalb is on Defense
This would seem to be the Achilles heel for the Barbs this season. Last week against Kaneland, the Knights scored 66 points in the win over DeKalb. Sycamore put up 49 on them, two others had over 30 and one over 20. The only team the Barbs held to six points was Streator.
"When they are on defense, they have some good sized kids," Thorson said. "They do a decent job of stopping the run though I know Kaneland did run the ball pretty effectively against them."
About the only question then is if Morris quarterback Zach Cinnamon's injury from last week against Sycamore is a cause for concern. Cinnamon was replaced in the second half by backup Danny Friend and he finished the game against the Spartans.
"(Cinnamon) sat out but it was our choice. He had a shoulder injury and was cleared to come back in. It was just one of those situations where he didn't need to take another hit. It was us playing it safe. But he's good to go," Thorson said. "Danny did a good job of working the offense. He actually audibled a couple of times on plays while he was in there while he was looking over the players they had out there."
Another factor that may help Morris on the offensive line is getting Bubba Henry back from an injury.
Bubba's cleared to go this week to get back to practice," Thorson said. "We're excited to see how he does. But it will probably be limited time for him to get his feet under him."
According to Thorson, his biggest concern this week is that the kids not get hurt while engaging in various extra-curricular activities.
"I worry more about the late-night activities. Like the 3-on-3 basketball tournament and dodge ball," he said. "We've had kids in the past get hurt doing that. It's about being smart. The pep rally and the game, the kids are ready for that. It builds up."
It's a message that the seniors have apparently heard.
"We're trying to stay healthy and not get hurt during it. I think we'll stay pretty focused," Hogan said. "It's all about the football game, then after it's over we can have fun at the dance the next day."
Thorson thinks that having Homecoming and Senior Night at the same time may also be a blessing more than a distraction.
"It's also senior night and the last regular-season game the seniors will be playing on their home field," he said. "They are excited for that and they definitely don't want to go out there and have a bad night on senior night. It's exciting for both the parents and the seniors."