Bismarck-Henning prepares for QB change
Bismarck-Henning's football team is ready for a change.
Blue Devils coach Mark Dodd had been using senior Murad Abbed as a part-time quarterback to ease the transition for sophomore Michael Grant to the varsity position.
"We didn't know how quickly he'd mature and progress," Dodd said. "We were using Murad with the spread."
In parts of two games, Grant has completed nearly half of his passes (10 of 21) and thrown for 147 yards.
"Michael Grant has done some good things," Dodd said.
Dodd emphasized the move is not a demotion for Abbed.
"Murad never made any claims to be a quarterback," Dodd said. "He was filling a role where we needed him. Now, he's ready to catch the ball."
And, Grant is ready to take all the snaps when the Blue Devils (1-1) play at Milford (2-0) in a homecoming of sorts for the Bearcats coach. Michael Packard, 22, is a B-H graduate.
Abbed has been the Blue Devils' go-to player defensively. He has a conference-best 37 tackles.
In last week's 31-6 win at Tri-Point, the coach saw encouraging signs on several fronts.
"David Ingram had an outstanding game (rushing for 178 yards), Logan Patton (tight end) had three receptions and a big sack and a couple of older kids who haven't played before are starting to get it," Dodd said.
He predicts more playing time for linemen Josh Miller and Jacob Ault.
One disappointment in the game at Cullom was that after just missing on a safety, B-H allowed Tri-Point to drive more than 99 yards for a touchdown.
"After that," Dodd said, "the kids got mad and they had negative yards (minus-23) rushing in the second half."
Senior Robert Cox, a two-way starter, will make his season debut for the Storm on Friday when the team hosts second-ranked (Class 2A) Westville at Jamaica.
Cox spent the latter part of the summer in boot camp and, until this week, was unable to meet the mandated IHSA number of practices needed to participate in a game.
"It will be a big boost to have him back on the field," said Salt Fork coach Brian Plotner, whose squad lost to top-rated (Class 3A) St. Joseph-Ogden 41-6 last week.
"The kids competed against a superior opponent and continuously tried to work on things," Plotner said. "Sometimes you run into somebody a little bit better."
Linebackers Chet Moreland (11 tackles) and Timmy Thomas (10 tackles) along with end Sean Nicholson (10 tackles) were the defensive leaders against the Spartans.
Thomas made his first start.
Offensively, Jon Knoll and Brock Bodine each had two receptions and accounted for 87 of the team's 115 passing yards.
Plotner said his team's task won't get any easier this week.
"Judging by what they've done, it's not a stretch to say they are knocking on the door to the (Memorial) Stadium again," Plotner said. "I don't see any glaring weaknesses.
"This will be a formidable challenge."
With Dustin Zaayer the lone returning regular on the offensive line, Tigers coach Guy Goodlove emphasized throughout the preseason that the other starters needed to learn their assignments quickly.
"We knew there was a sense of urgency during the double practices," Goodlove said. "There wasn't much time to grow up and not much room for growing pains.
"We had to execute or we would lose."
The Tigers' 14-12 triumph against Momence last week is a reflection of how well the offensive line has solidified.
"From the first week to the second, our offensive line made great strides," Goodlove said. "We had to see it or we weren't going to win that game.
"Austin Gay is one of those kids who has worked hard in the weight room, and it showed Friday. He made his blocks, and when he got time defensively, he made plays."
The line led the way as backs Caleb Pratt, Jordan Barney and Aaron Johnson collectively carried 47 times against the Redskins and averaged 6.7 yards per attempt.
Jason Baccadutre can imagine what message Hoopeston Area coaches are imparting on their players in advance of Friday's game at Georgetown between two 0-2 teams.
"They're saying the same thing to their kids, and they should be: 'We need to get a win against this team,' " Baccadutre said. "Both coaches feel that. There's a lot of football yet to be played.
"We hope we can get a win and get on a roll."
The Buffaloes are coming off a 33-6 loss to Iroquois West/Crescent-Iroquois. As a result, the coach is doing things differently.
"We've changed up a little how we run the system, how we do our play calling," he said. "We go no-huddle and I signal in everything, but last year we had Andrew Pratt (at quarterback).
"We'd talk about situations prior to the game, and I never had to worry about audibles. This year (with Chase Vire), we're not quite there yet. We'll put a lot more of the audible system on me."
One receiver who made an impression was Willie Vice.
"He ran great routes and was going downfield making extra blocks," Baccadutre said. "We've found a new receiver."
Despite a 60-0 loss to Watseka last week, Cornjerkers coach Jeff Ohlemeyer found bright spots.
"Tight end Jason Leigh had four catches for 65 yards, and Nico VanDeVeer (freshman linebacker) came off the bench to get seven tackles," Ohlemeyer said.
VanDeVeer earned a promotion to the first team for this week. The Cornjerkers also will have other newcomers in the lineup.
Seniors Josh Kempen and Randall Espinosa and junior Coty Morgeson are available after sitting out the first two weeks.
Ohlemeyer hopes this is the week Hoopeston can reverse its fortunes.
"Everything seems to go wrong at the wrong time," he said. "We need to do a better job of believing we can be successful. The biggest issue is staying focused and staying positive."
The Comets have a week off, but coach Gary Denhart corrects folks who refer to it as a bye week.
"It's a forfeit week," he said, making the point that his team will pick up a victory from a scheduled game against Schlarman, which dropped varsity football.
Denhart has shifted his views on not getting to play one of the nine games.
"I did not want this week off, and I've been quite adamant," he said. "I wish we'd known sooner, so we could have played (another opponent)."
This week, he softened his opinions.
"Right now, it's a blessing in disguise," he said. "I didn't think we'd be 0-2, and I didn't think we'd be trying to fix some problems I didn't think we had two weeks ago. This is the first day I'm glad we have the forfeit."
Injuries have taken their toll. In the opener, two-way starter Brady Leeman went down with a hairline fracture of the fibula. It's unlikely he will be able to play again this season.
Last week, in a 42-8 loss to Clifton Central, safety Josh Farren sustained a pulled back muscle. Even with the week off, Denhart said, "he may be out a while. The last couple years, we seem to be the collector of bad luck."
Against the Comets, J Sutton was the top rusher with 73 yards. Defensively, Kalob Creighton had nine tackles and Sutton had seven.
O/A-P will practice Friday and then check out the competition.
"We'll go watch Hoopeston," Denhart said, referring to the Comets' Week 4 opponent.