Heavy weight bout between unbeaten district teams
Friday’s football game between No. 9 Williamsburg and No. 11 Washington has several postseason implications.
An unbeaten mark in district play is on the line with the winner taking a huge step toward a title and No. 1 seed. A win would put the Demons two wins away from clinching a postseason berth.
“We put ourselves in a position to be here,” said head coach Randy Schrader. “We did it because of all the time in the weight room, all the time on seven-on-seven, the camp at Simpson and every practice up to this point. Our kids have put in the time for this opportunity to play a ranked team picked to win the district.”
The game falls on homecoming weekend, which creates a distraction that Schrader is cautious about.
“Everybody wants to have a good homecoming weekend,” Schrader said. “No coach wants to coach during homecoming weekend because everyone’s focus is out of whack. The kids need to understand that the biggest reason you have homecoming is for the game on Friday night.”
The two teams have become budding district rivals during Schrader’s four-year tenure.
“The last three years it has turned into a real good rivalry,” Schrader said. “It is two good football programs that respect each other.”
He has gone 1-2 against them with his lone win coming two years ago. That win qualified them for the playoffs.
Last year Washington fell 20-7 at Williamsburg as the Raiders went unbeaten in district play for a championship.
“The winner of this will be in the driver’s seat; there is no doubt about that,” Schrader said. “This is the biggest game we have played this season. We circled this game on our calendar. This one is in red. This is one we have been looking forward to.”
These two successful programs have a lot in common. Both will lean on their running games and physical defense, leaving the game to possibly be decided by the kicking or return game.
“This game could come down to special teams’ play,” Schrader said. “A field goal, a field position game with a punt or a kick return. You want it to be a good physical football game. I don’t think either team has got a distinct advantage over the other one.”
Senior Alex Coker has returned a kick and a punt for a touchdown. He has 408 total yards on 11 returns.
“They will have that schemed up; they will punt away from him or who knows,” Schrader said. “I’m sure they will kick away from him on kick returns.”
The key to controlling both sides of the football starts upfront.
“Our defense is going to come to play to shut the run game down,” Schrader said. “Our offensive line has got to take control at the line of scrimmage.”
Last Friday, Washington put up a season-high 439 yards, which was a far cry from the 15 it had against Pella in the second game Sept. 6.
“We ran the ball well last week; but then you look at Pella — we couldn’t,” Schrader said. “Pella was real physical; we weren’t ready to match that.”
The Raiders present the stingiest defense Washington has faced since Pella. This has led Schrader to focus on mimicking what Williamsburg will do.
“Our job defensively is to make them play left-handed,” Schrader said. “Take away their best plays and make them do something they don’t want to do. That is what they are going to do to us. They will try to take the run game away from us. That is why we have worked on some things this week.”
Schrader said the Raiders will stack the box and try to force Washington out of its comfort zone.
Schrader said the game will come down to spurts of less than 10 seconds.
“This is a 48-minute game with each play lasting six seconds,” Schrader said. “If we can bring it for six seconds every time the ball is snapped, we have a chance to be successful.”