Heading into the penultimate week of football's regular season, the Morris football team is hoping to keep a good thing going.
After remaining undefeated last week against DeKalb, the Redskins are looking to having a spotless record going into the season finale against Kaneland. Standing in the way of that is an ever-steady Rochelle team led by venerable coach Kevin Crandall — a team at 5-2 with losses to Kaneland and Sycamore this fall.
The more things change, the more they stay the same for the Hubs, according to Morris coach Alan Thorson.
"It's the same Rochelle team we've been seeing for years. They will give you some different formations, but it's the Wing-T," he said of their offense. "They use double-wing sets where they will use double dives and traps and things like that. They are good at it, too. It's going to be another good game for the defense to step up."
Rochelle is coming off a loss last week to Sycamore (26-14), but the game did catch the attention of Morris senior Danny Friend.
"Their offense is based mostly on controlling the clock. if we're not careful, they can take a whole quarter away from us. They did that to Sycamore last week," Friend said. "Sycamore didn't touch the ball in the third quarter. We're going to want to get them in three-and-out. If we do that, we'll be all right."
Part of the challenge to defending an offense like Rochelle is that gambling on any given play by anyone can lead to a big gain at the same time.
"It's about playing disciplined football. You have to tackle everybody. They are very good with their fakes. One time you think the fullback has it and they give it to the second back through or the quarterback keeps it. On the defensive side, it's abut making sure each player takes care of their own responsibilities. Even though they only pass the ball three or four times a game, when they do it's when they think they've lulled you to sleep," Thorson said.
"They have some good backs. No. 36 — he's a junior who played up last year. He's got some good speed and he runs the ball well. We can't let the big play happen, but at the same time we can't let them eat the clock, either, because they do that well, too."
"The defensive line this week has got to make sure they stay in their gaps and the linebackers have to be there to fill their holes," Friend said.
When Morris is on offense, Friend says that he is hoping to see the Redskins expand upon what they've already established this fall.
"They do some different things on defense," he said. "Hopefully this week we can open up the offense some more. Get (Zach) Cinnamon out on some roll-outs, and get Anthony (Monson) the ball. But we also want to get Reese (Sobol) and Jeff (Perry) going again and get Collin (Grogan) some runs."
Thorson said that the Hubs play a base 4-4 defense.
"They will bring some blitzes from time to time. It's a well-disciplined defense," he said. "Our big thing is our offensive line. They have to keep playing like they have. We've got to get that push downfield. If we do that, it's going to open up the run game. Hopefully we'll also take advantage of the offensive passing situations."
Part of that line had been missing in recent weeks before the return of Brian Henry last week. Missing the last two games but expected back this Friday is senior linebacker Nik Countryman.
"Everyone's back. Countryman's back. He practiced (Tuesday) and he looked very good," Thorson said. "I know he's wants to try and make up for the lost time he had. Bubba also looked great last week and he'll be in there as well. We're healing up at the right time."
Kickoff on Friday night is set for approximately 7:30 p.m.