Red Devils’ rushing attack to test Panthers
Thursday, September 04, 2014 12:00 AM
BY JOHN PARENT
DHI Media Sports Editor
ROCKFORD — After suffering a 35-0 loss at Crestview last weekend, Parkway opens the home portion of its football schedule by welcoming Arlington to Panthers Stadium on Friday night.
An all-state tailback leads a Red Devils squad that racked up 250 rushing yards last week in a home shutout of East Cleveland Shaw, a Division II foe. Arlington returns four starting offensive lineman from last year and Austin Rettig, who amassed 2,168 rushing yards last year and scored 43 total touchdowns.
“The running back is outstanding; he’s got great vision and great lateral movement,” Parkway head coach Dan Cairns explained. “It will definitely be an uphill battle for us on Friday night.”
Rettig ran for 230 yards versus Shaw on 37 carries.
“He didn’t have a lot of big breakaways against Cleveland Shaw, but he did have a lot of 15-to-20-yard runs where they were catching him and dragging him down from behind,” Cairns added.
In order to have a chance on Friday, Cairns knows the Panthers have to go all out to stop the run.
“They’re a very big, very physical team. They’ve got a couple of offensive and defensive linemen that are bigger than anybody we have on our team,” Cairns noted. “We’re going to try to keep seven (players) in the box the whole night. We normally play a lot of cover-3, and they’re kind of a spread team, but they line up in the spread with the purpose of running the ball. We’re coming out to try to stop the run and try to make them beat us with the pass.”
If the Panthers can succeed in forcing the Red Devils to the air, Parkway may have an advantage. Arlington quarterback Dominique Fuller was just 3-for-9 last week for a total of 47 yards.
Arlington’s defense forced four turnovers and held Shaw to 170 yards of total offense last week. While the Panthers failed to score versus Crestview, Cairns is confident that, if his offense cleans up some mistakes, they can be successful on Friday.
“The first couple possessions (last week), we got down inside the 5-yard line and one time we scored but had it called back on a penalty, and the other time we shot ourselves in the foot, too,” Cairns added. “I think that if we cut down on the mental mistakes, we’re capable of moving the ball against anybody.”
An area where the Panthers must improve in week two is the passing game. Parkway was just 11-for-26 through the air last week and only 4-for-15 on third down. That inefficiency lead to lost opportunities, something the Panthers cannot afford this week.
“All aspects (have to improve). Some of it was protection, some of it was the quarterback being just a little bit off on throws, and some of it was receivers just not catching the ball,” Cairns said.
“Consistency (of execution) across the board is what we need in order to get better, just be more consistent in what we do.”