The Star Beacon; Ashtabula, Ohio

Sports

September 12, 2013

The most ancient of rivals

Geneva, Conneaut will square off for the 110th time Friday night

(Continued)

won’t play this week, nor will R.J. Nelson (knee) or Tyler Cox (knee). Roe Rozalski (shoulder) is probable.

“Our pass protection overall needs work and some of our special teams need work,” Dobran said. “I felt, overall, we played very hard and fought hard until they got a goal-line stand, then blocked a punt for a TD, and we got some key players injured.

“Then, we lost our confidence. We are going to work on handling adversity and working through any situation, regardless of how tough it is.”

Hassett doesn’t expect another rendition of what’s transpired in this matchup the past two seasons, when his Eagles have outscored the Spartans by a combined 130-0.

“Conneaut is a much-improved football team,” he said. “They know their jobs on the field and execute it out on offense. On defense, they really get after it.  They hit well and get to the ball. We must be ready and focus to play them.”

Hassett has a good idea what to expect Friday night.

“Conneaut is a spread offense, no-huddle team,” he said. “They want to stretch the field and then mix in the run. They have some pretty good athletes. They run a 50 defense. They good size up front with linebackers and a secondary that gets to the ball.  

“Troy Colucci is a double threat as a runner and passer. We will need to contain him. Alex Gerdes had a huge game against Champion at the receiver spot.  Steven Gaugh is a tough runner. Their offensive and defensive line has good size and our doing a good job.”

Meanwhile, Dobran has plenty of praise for Geneva.

“They have a lot of depth, they have a lot of team speed, tough players, and are coached well,” he said. “Last year, we came into the game banged up a bit, played some young guys, and they had some very talented players.

“On offense, they run multiple sets. They like to mostly pound the ball with two- and three-back sets, sometimes going unbalanced with their line. Then they will occasionally spread you out and throw a bit.

“On offense, Aaron Rossi is a very special back who I'm sure everyone tries to at least contain, but Brandon Pakkala is also a very good quarterback who can run well and throw the ball down field to his favorite and very talented receiver, in Travis Blake. I also noticed their tight end, Ronnie Varckette, as a very good and aggressive blocker.

“On defense, they keep it fairly simple, but they do what they do well. They play a 4-4, cover 3 defense, occasionally jumping into man coverage when bringing pressure. They don't have a ton of size on their D-line, but they are quick and aggressive. Shane Herter, who also does a nice job at the fullback position, is also a very hard nosed linebacker and good tackler. Then, Pakkala and Blake give their defensive backfield a lot of speed and athleticism.”

The respective coaches have ideas of what needs to be done Friday night to bag the victory and move to 2-1 on the season.

“We need to play hard and go to Conneaut with the right frame of mind,” Hassett said. “We must outhit them and hustle on defense, read our keys and get to the ball. We need to force turnovers.   

“We must win the special teams and not allow the big play. On offense, we must execute our game plan, not have mental errors and play with poise. If we can accomplish those goals, we should be fine.”

“I think we first need to do the obvious — have good special teams and win the turnover battle,” Dobran said. “Offensively, we need to manage the clock and finish drives with touchdowns and put some points on the board.

“Defensively, we need to contain Rossi and prevent the big plays.”

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