Eddies hoping for no letdown against ChieftainsPublished 8:00pm Wednesday, October 30, 2013
The Edwardsburg football team capped a great regular season with a win at Paw Paw Friday night.
But that victory came with a price. One that might affect the outcome of this week’s Division 4 playoff opener against Dowagiac.
Already down two players due to concussions sustained in the Dowagiac game two weeks ago, the Eddies lost leading rusher Dylan Hulett (ankle), starting quarterback Brett Bowman (knee) and cornerback Grant Szalewski (fractured scapula).
That would mean Edwardsburg could have been missing what amounted to eight starters.
But the news was better Monday for Edwardsburg coach Kevin Bartz and his coaching staff.
Bartz said that the injuries may not leave the Eddies in as bad a shape as originally thought.
Hulett may be able to play on a limited basis, while Bowman has not seen a doctor and how he performs in practice the remainder of this week will determine his playing status.
Bartz said he expected to have both Bronkema and Lutz back. Szalewski is the only player who is definitely out of Friday’s game.
Dowagiac knows something about having injuries change the outcome of a game.
The Chieftains would like to repeat its performance from 2007 when South Haven defeated the Chieftains 70-20 during the regular season only to have Dowagiac turn it around in the opening round of the playoffs.
The Chieftains, who were missing star running back Jamie Simpson, knocked off the Rams 54-22.
Two weeks ago, Edwardsburg blanked Dowagiac 36-0. The Eddies ground up 403 yards of total offense, including 353 on the ground.
Dowagiac coach Mike Stanger doesn’t care who the Eddies line up on either side of the football. He knows that his team has to perform better than it did in the previous contest.
“This is a great opportunity to prove we are a better team than the one that played Edwardsburg Week 8,” he said. “Our players need to come out with a chip on their shoulder. We have to be ready for a physical game.”
The Chieftains (6-3) struggled to move the football against the Eddies throughout the game.
Quarterback Austin Broda led the Chieftains offensively as he was 8-of-20 for 94 yards passing and rushed for a team-high 37 yards.
“Offensively, we need to put some first downs together and sustain some drives,” Stanger said.
Dowagiac finished the game with just 112 yards rushing and 206 yards in total offense.
The Eddies (9-0) had no trouble moving the football.
Edwardsburg took the opening drive 75 yards in 15 plays and used nearly half the first quarter clock in the process.
There was no stopping the Eddies from that point on as they opened up a 22-0 halftime lead and never looked back.
Edwardsburg scored from a variety of spots on the field. They capped long drives with short runs and were also able to score from outside the red zone.
Hulett led the ground game with 89 yards rushing.
Despite the injuries, the Eddies have developed some depth throughout the season having played a lot of players in several lopsided victories.
Edwardsburg also uses a two-platoon system at quarterback, which mean back-up Dante Razzano has plenty of playing experience this season.
“We know we are going to see a ground control offense,” Stanger said. “They are putting up 40 points a game. We have to slow down their offense.”
Bartz doesn’t expect his team to look past the Chieftains at a possible rematch with Paw Paw. A loss two years ago to Plainwell in the opening round of the playoffs taught his team a valuable lesson.
“We have preached that quite a bit to the team,” he said. “I don’t think we will have any problem with focus or looking past Dowagiac.”
The Eddies won’t change much on offense, but they will focus a bit more on the Chieftains’ passing game.
“Offensively we don’t have too many things we can change,” Bartz said. “We do what we do. We may change up some blocking assignments. Defensively, they have been throwing the ball well the last few weeks, so we will focus a little bit more attention on their passing game.
“We liked some of the things we did defensively against them the first time and there are some things we would like to try.”