Phase I of the Sacred Heart Trojan football season has been completed. Now it is time to begin Phase II.
The Trojans will look to increase upon their perfect 3-0 record during this next phase as they travel to False River tonight to take on the Gators in the opening game of District 5-1A for both teams. Game time is set for 7 p.m.
“Phase I for us is our non-district schedule,” said Sacred Heart head coach Josh Harper. “We wanted to get through that part of the season with a winning record, and we have done that. Now we have to bring that same intensity and execution to Phase II, our district games.”
Execution has been a theme for Harper and the Trojans all season long. Offensively, Sacred Heart has taken that theme and seemed to have perfected it for the first three contests of the year. The Trojans have averaged 37 points over that span, while amassing close to 1,500 total yards.
Last week in their 42-14 win over Basile, the Trojans accumulated 429 yards of rushing and 78 yards through the air. More importantly, Sacred Heart did most of that damage while putting together four drives of 83 yards or more; a true indication of dominance on the offensive front.
“We have really had some huge success on offense this season,” stated Harper. “Our skill guys work hard to make plays happen and get the most out of each time they touch the ball. But, the reason they work so hard is because they know that the guys on the offensive line are working twice as hard to give them the room to operate. Right now our offense is executing really well.”
“This past week we had two new players up front,” he continued. “We wanted to see if they could fit in and help us spell some other players that go both ways. They came in and did a tremendous job. Now, we know that we can count on them. I just hope we can continue clicking on offense and putting up points.”
On the defensive side of the ball, Harper is pleased with his team’s play, but believes there is still room for improvement in terms of execution. Last Friday, the Bearcats were able to drive inside the Trojan five-yard line twice, but the Sacred Heart defense was able to thwart any points on the board. The Trojans are allowing 18 points per game so far this season.
“Being the defensive coordinator when I was at Marksville, I am probably more critical of that side of the ball than I am of the offense,” commented Harper. “Our guys play so hard on defense. They really give us their best effort every night. It’s just I don’t think we are consistent enough. One thing is that we are giving up too many big plays, especially on third down.”
“Right now we are pretty solid up front defensively,” he continued. “We just need to be more consistent in the secondary. We have been spending a lot of extra time on defense working on our schemes. It’s just a matter of us putting it altogether. I guess for us it is that old adage ‘Bend but don’t break’. I was very proud of how we stiffened up when they (Basile) threatened on their first two drives.”
This week Sacred Heart faces another tough test for its first district contest. False River comes into the game with an overall record of 1-2 after having defeated St. John 40-22 in the opening game and losing to Northlake Christian 47-27 and Central Catholic 53-35 in its last two contests.
Despite their losing record to this date, Harper is still weary of the senior laden Gators. False River sports 18 upperclassmen.
“They can put up points in a heartbeat,” said Harper. “Their quarterback is legit. They run a spread offense and the coaches do everything to make sure the ball is in his hands. He is the definitely the best quarterback we will face this season.”
“Defensively, they give up a ton of points. But, they are like us in the fact that they play a lot of players both ways.
“We are going to have to continue to take care of the football and not put ourselves in bad situations. Our execution will have to be perfect, especially on the defensive side of the ball. I just want us to come out and compete like we have all year long. If we do that, we have a solid chance of being 1-0 in district.”
With the amount of points being put up by both clubs this year, this game could become a shootout. And, when that happens, usually the team with the ball last wins. If that is the case, the Trojans will need to make sure they travel to False River with a ton of ammunition.