For the second straight season, the Rolla football team will travel to Borgia for a District matchup on Friday, Nov. 2. Last season, the Bulldogs came away with a 28-14 win to claim a District Championship. A win this year will earn Rolla their third straight appearance in a District Championship game.
Rolla is coming off of a dominant 50-7 win in the first round of Districts last week and head coach Jon Franks was impressed with his team's ability to maintain focus all game long.
"(I was impressed with) our execution for the whole game," I was really happy with our guys executing. We kinda got out to a fast start and we did that earlier this year and we kind of let up mentally. I thought we did a good job continuing to focus."
Head coach Jon Franks expects Borgia to have a very similar scheme to what the Bulldogs faced in the District Championship game last season. Their offense is led by senior running back Louis Eckelkamp, who has rushed for 1228 yards and 23 touchdowns on the season. Cole Meyer has added another 449 yards and six scores on the ground and passed for another 227 yards and a touchdown. Sam Heggeman has thrown for 977 yards and 11 touchdowns, while rushing for 215 yards and three scores for Borgia.
"Gameplan and system-wise, very similar to last year," said coach Franks of Borgia. "They're good up front and (Eckelkamp) runs extremely hard. He played a lot for them last year, he was durable, he was big. He does a great job."
Rolla's number one job defensively will be to shut down a rushing attack that has combined for 2,366 yards and 40 touchdowns on the season, but coach Franks thinks his team is up to the task.
"Everything we do is stop the run first and that's where we're at this week," said the Bulldog head coach. "For the most part, that's one of our better traits defensively. We generally run fit well and we have a good scheme against the run. It's just going to come down to who is going to execute better. I think our guys are in a good spot right now."
Rolla's bread and butter offensively is also on the ground, where Trey Quick has rushed for 1,667 yards and 18 touchdowns. With two teams so devoted to running the ball, the game will likely come down to who does a better job of controlling the clock. If Rolla is going to win that battle, it's going to start with great play up front.
"Obviously, up front they have to establish themselves, because when they do, Trey has a big night. Trey will be the first to tell you that the offensive line doesn't get enough credit when he's having a great game," said the Bulldog head coach. "I think that's what it's going to come down to, which team plays the best defense for 48 minutes, much like last year. Field position, we have a good kicking game, so Jarret (Gabriele) and Trey do a good job of swinging field position most of the time. I think it's going to come down to what offense can produce the best."
Defensively the key is going to be the same as it is on offense, the big guys up front are going to have to set the tone to slow down a Borgia offense that has only been held up 40 points twice this season.
"Good defensive line play and discipline, because they do run option," said coach Franks on the key to slowing down Borgia's offense. "Like when we played Lebanon, you've got to be disciplined. Whoever's got dive, take dive, whoever's got quarterback takes quarterback."
One of the biggest difference makers will likely be big plays. Last time these two faced, Rolla had big plays like Ahmed Boubacar intercepting a Borgia pass in the end zone. Winning the battle of the big play will be crucial for the Bulldogs on Friday night. One think that could help there is the return of Blaize Klossner. He is expected to return to the lineup after missing several games with an ankle injury.
"Obviously we've got kids that can pop and go the distance. We have some athleticism on our side," said coach Franks. "The first thing we did was go back and watch last year's film. They were a very high powered offense and they had three big plays. I think looking back they had three plays over 20 yards and two of them were touchdowns. Just mental breakdowns, stuff we kind of fought early this year. I know the secondary doesn't want to allow any of that. If we eliminate that, we're going to be in good shape."