2005 4A Finals Preview
Friday Nov 25th
Who would have thought that the Highlanders would be back 4 more times after that first of 4 title in 2001? In what turned out to be one of the great state finals match ups ever, Driscoll & Mt. Carmel took 2 overtimes to figure out who was the 4A champs. One can only wonder what would have happened had the Aces not gone for the 2 point conversion or if they had gotten the 2 point conversion.
Well, who cares? It's 2005 and the Highlanders are back. But this time with a different head coach, Mike Burzawa. Which could be one of the biggest testament to this accomplishment, is that it has the possibility of being done under two different coaches.
While the Highlanders might look a little more pass friendly this year than in the past, it has more to do with accuracy than play calling. Driscoll is running about 70% of the time, but averaging 14 yards a pass completion. Justin Nudo & Mike Redpath have been breaking up running duties, Nudo with 842 yards & Redpath with 744 yards rushing.
The real reason behind the Highlanders return to the title game, may very well be the defense and 3 year starting DE Kyle Jenkins (6'5 235). Jenkins is one of those large players that manages to be in on just about every tackle no matter what side of the field it's on.
While his 71 tackles doesn't lead the team, most of that could have a lot to do with the fact that he has 27 sacks. Who could possibly get over 100 tackles if you keep forcing the offense to punt or you're more concerned with causing a turnover.
Linebacker Shane Franken, the 6' 295 lbs senior leads the team with 98 tackles, picking up on whoever Jenkins and the rest of the Highlander line flush out of the backfield, but with 22 sacks Franken has his share of tackles in the backfield as well. With almost 50 sacks between the 2 of them, it's no wonder that opposing teams have only thrown for 850 yards against the Highlanders.
The Highlanders will no doubt not forget who they are playing on Friday, but the bigger opponent on the field may be destiny. She has a way of blowing off her dates this season and Driscoll might be no different. It's amazing how heavy a football can get when it's got more in it than air. This game will be decided by whether Driscoll want to take the win or give it away.
Quarterback Jake Semple, has tossed the pig skin for almost 3,000 yards this season. If he plans on getting 3,000 on Friday, he'd better get a lot of help from his offensive line. With a 20 pound weight difference between the average size of the Driscoll D-line & the Newton O-line, Semple might have the dubious honor of increasing Driscoll's defensive end Kyle Jenkins' state record 27 season sacks.
Semple and the offense may be tested to the limit on Friday, but a quick release may help back off pressure from the blitz if the Eagles leading receivers can get open in a hurry.
Levi Richards (76 rec) & Pat Mendenhall (41 rec.) have the speed and the hands to possibly break open for a big play, but quick and steady strikes are a way to drive down a defense that's not use to staying a the field for more than 3 plays.
Richards & Kyle Pittman will need to make sure that they don't get beat on offense with the long ball. The Highlanders have always had a way with hitting a team when they weren't looking for the long ball. When this happens and it leads to a touchdown, that Big Mo starts to swing like a wrecking ball & if it happens again defenses start to fall like shotgun houses in a hurricane.
Brian Bierman & Alex Koebele , have lead the team in sacks this season. Each dragging down a QB 13.5 times. Blitzing on Driscoll's QB Phil Pedi could be the key in this game if this tandem can reach him before he can dumb a pass off to halfback John Tranchitella or hit wide out Mike Redpath in the redzone.
by Vincent Johnson