Dowagiac looking for repeat performance

Published 3:24 pm Tuesday, October 29, 2013

Aaron Adams, left, and the Dowagiac offensive will need to put together some drives against the Edwardsburg defense if the Chieftains want to advance in the Division 4 playoffs. (Leader photo/File)

Aaron Adams, left, and the Dowagiac offensive will need to put together some drives against the Edwardsburg defense if the Chieftains want to advance in the Division 4 playoffs. (Leader photo/File)

The Dowagiac football team is hoping for a repeat performance.

The performance the Chieftains would like to repeat is 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.

Injuries could play a key role in Friday night’s Division 4 playoff opener.

The Eddies are likely to be missing several starters when it hosts the Chieftains at Leo Hoffman Field at 7 p.m.

In the game with the Chieftains, Edwardsburg lost Garret Bronkema and Tyler Lutz, who collided with each other, to concussions. In the regular season finale against Paw Paw, the Eddies lost leading rusher Dylan Hulett to a high ankle sprain, starting quarterback Brett Bowman to a knee injury and cornerback Grant Szalewski to a fractured shoulder blade bone.

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 Edwardsbburg 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. The 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.”

Edwardsburg coach Kevin 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.

“We were looking at having four players who go both ways out,” Bartz said. “That’s eight starters right there.”

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.”