Two young football teams looking for continued improvement will square off Friday night at Westlake’s Lou Duchez Field.
Westlake, coming off a 34-24 win over Bay, will host Rocky River in the final non-conference tune-up for both squads. The Pirates come into the game with a 2-0 mark after last Saturday’s 19-13 win over Trinity.
Pirates head coach Rick Adams brings in a defense that is allowing just 152 yards per game. The River D held Trinity to just 73 total offensive yards, including a minus 30 yards on the ground.
“Their quarterback (Phil Brusk) does a nice job of running their offense,” Adams said Thursday afternoon. “He does a good job of reading the defense, so we’l have to make sure we stay home and maintain our positions.
“We’ll definitely have to focus on Kyle Perkins. He looked really good against Bay and has the potential to take it deep. He runs hard after the catch and is hard to bring down. Then there’s Jonathan Brick. He runs hard and makes you miss, so we’ll have to be sure to wrap him up,” he added.
Demons head coach Mark Campo is well aware of the problems the River defense will present.
“We’re concerned about their defense,” Campo said. “They’ve got a pair of tackles who are very aggressive kids, especially No. 11 (senior Klinti Gjino). They’ve got a very aggressive guy on the end in No. 37 (Junior Alec Hallal).
“And their linebackers play the way the game is supposed to be played. We’ll have to find a way to match their physical play up front,” he added. Hallal was a terror against Trinity with five of the Pirates’ 12 quarterback sacks.
Offensively, the Pirates have had turnover problems early on. Adams said he was concerned about his team’s miscues last weekend, which included a fumble, two interceptions and a fumbled punt return. But despite the turnovers, Campo felt River’s offense presented some problems.
“Offensively, their quarterback (junior Austin Kelly) can run and pass the ball, so we can’t key on just one thing with him,” Campo said. “And their running back (senior Adreas Tjotjos) can make the big play. He has the ability to run away from you, so we’ll have to play solid defense and try to contain him.”
The Westlake offense made strides during the second and third quarters of last Friday’s 34-24 win over Bay. After a penalty-filled first quarter, the Demons rattled off 34 unanswered points to overcome an early 10-0 deficit.
“The problems we had in the first quarter, you would hope, are relatively easy fixes,” Campo said. “As far as our blocking up front, we held them off long enough to get the ball to our playmakers.
“We’re not dominant up front, but we’re scrappy,” he said. “We just need to push people around enough to buy some time and create some space.”
Campo felt his defense, after a rough second half in the season opener at North Ridgeville, got better as the game went on last Friday night.
“I thought we definitely got better,” Campo said. “For one thing, I thought our tackling was better. A big part of that is from week one to week two, we had a better idea of how to lineup. Against Ridgeville, we weren’t lined up up in the right place a number of times and it hurt us.
“We were thinking too much, so we couldn’t pull the cord and just play football. Against Bay, we were a lot more comfortable and didn’t have to think about things as much. The guys just played, and it made a difference,” he added.
Adams is hoping his offense will maintain possession of the ball for longer stretches to give his defense a breather.
“Our defense did one heck of a job last weekend considering the position they were put in due to the turnovers,” Adams said. “But Westlake is a much better team, so we really don’t want to put our defense in those types of situations this week.”