Running Backs To Have Spotlight In John Glenn-Sheridan Showdown

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With a huge amount of MVL momentum on the line, Friday night in Thornville has all the trimmings to be an epic football game, as the John Glenn Little Muskies are set to take on the Sheridan Generals.

With John Glenn and Sheridan coming off of losses last week, you can bet that both teams are hungry to get back to their winning ways.  John Glenn was shocked when Philo shut them out, 24-0, for their second loss of the season.  The Sheridan Generals marked the first blemish on their schedule as they lost to Cambridge, 40-20.  Neither coach was happy with their team’s play in last week’s games.

“We had a performance that none of us are pleased with last week,” John Glenn head coach John Kelley said.  “I think it’s a game that both teams are going to be looking forward to.”

“We’ve got to find a way to play better defense than we did last week and the week before,” Sheridan head coach Paul Culver Jr. said.  “We haven’t been very pleased with our inability to tackle and last week we didn’t do a very good job of running to the ball.”

Tackling will be a key factor in Friday’s matchup, as both defenses will have their hands full with the opposition’s running backs.  The Little Muskies’ running back Blake Atkins and the Generals’ running back Connor Smith are both on the Gridiron Glory Player Of The Year watch list as they are the playmakers for their respective teams.  However, they will each be facing tough opposing defenses.  Heading into the matchup, Sheridan’s defense is giving up an average of 15.2 points per game compared to John Glenn’s defense allowing 10.8 points per game.           

“I think we’ve got an exceptional player in Blake Atkins and we need to utilize him more,” Kelley said.  “He’s our guy that can hit the homerun for us and we need to make better use of what he can do for us.”

Sheridan recognizes the talent in the backfield for the Little Muskies and identifies that as a part of the game that they need to contain in order to win on Friday night.

“They’ve got some very nice skill people and they have good speed (in) their two running backs which concerns me,” Culver said.  “ The type of offense that they run, the Wing-T, is based on misdirection and if you’re a half a step to the wrong side then that leaves the seem and with the speed they have they can take it to the house on any given play.”

Mirroring that talent in the backfield for the Generals is Connor Smith, who will be relied on to run away with the game for Sheridan.  Shutting him down is a main concern for the Little Muskies.

“We have got to keep him in front of us and not allow him to get the big play,” Kelley said.  “He has outstanding speed, so we’ve got to keep him bottled up and fenced in and I think we can do that and that increases our chance of being successful.” 

Aside from the focus of the defense stopping the opposing rushing attack, both coaches stressed the importance of protecting the football.

“We want to take care of the football and when the gun goes off be ready to play,” Kelley said.

“Number one, we have got to make sure that we don’t turn the football over,” Culver said. 

With both teams showcasing a strong backfield, the game clock will be ticking and possessions will be limited; therefore, stressing the importance on each and every time the offense steps onto the field. 

This is more than just an average Friday night football game.  John Glenn and Sheridan are two of the top teams in the conference this season, but every year these two teams have this game circled on their schedules.

“Sheridan is the team that our kids look forward to playing each year,” Kelley said.

“We are the team that people want to beat—we have won a lot of games over the years,” Culver said.  “Everybody brings us their best effort so we have to be really prepared to go out and play well on Friday night and try to get the taste of a loss out of our mouths.”