2005 6A Finals Preview
Saturday Nov 26th
Sophomore Austin Davis has taken over as the Ironmen's main go to guy on this option offense this season and has put up 1,102 yards rushing & 13 TDs.
Head coach Hud Venerable will be making his first trip to the state finals as a head coach in 24 years. After coming close 5 times in the last 15 season he's coached a team to the semi-finals, twice with Normal (1999 & 1996) & 3 times with Monticello (1989, 1990, & 1991). This will be the Ironmen's first trip back to the finals after finishing 2nd in the first ever year of the playoffs, 1974.
Kirkland Grant & Shannon Cobb have been making the big hits to help force teams to go three and out. Grant leads the team in sacks as the 6' 235 junior has taken down the QB 21 different times so far this season.
While it's unlikely that the Redskins will be expecting to just have the trophy handed to them, it's very possible that the Ironmen could be over looked.
A good reason why this could play in favor of the Ironmen has to do with Normal's defense last week, holding Hubbard's Robert Hughes to under 100 yards. Hughes who, much like Dergo is the go to guy on offense, had trouble early & often with the Iron curtain. But, much like Joliet Catholic found out late in their quarterfinal game, even if you can hold Dergo down for a couple of plays on offense, he can still burn you on defense and with tight end Jamie Cumbie (6'7 255 sr.) able to out size any defensive back he might meet up with in the flats, the Redskins are anything but a one trick pony on offense.
While the Redskins have come down from cloud 9 after beating Joliet Catholic and realized that they can be beat if they let the other team win, they are still very aware that they are in the driver's seat & that the 6A Title may be theirs to take or give away.
The Redskins do have a few other players on offense though and if you not careful they can slip by you if the defense is queuing on Dergo. Matt Peterson is one of those guys. The half back slipped through for a 40 yard TD on Crystal Lake South last week on a play that they over extended on Dergo. His 500 yards and 11 yard average attest to the number of teams who have forgotten about him or Cumbie, who QB Donovan Monohan has found 34 times for 608 yards this season.
Dergo will be the first to point out after a game that his line has a lot to do with his running game. Clocking in at an average 6'3 257 lbs, and anchored by 6'6 251 lbs Alex Perry & Cumbie on one side & 6'1 327 lbs sr. tackle Mark Kopczick & tight end Dane Zumbahlen (6'5 223 sr.) on the other, the Morris run game is not an easy one to break up in the backfield.
On defense you've got just 4 guys playing both ways in Dergo, Cumbie, Zumbahlen & flanker/strong safety Cole Gumm. While the defense hasn't had some of the staggering numbers that other schools have had this season, they are still in the playoffs and are only giving up 11 points a game.
Cumbie leads the team in sacks, with 24 7 while he may not be getting a chance to sack QB Craig Lutes that much, in Normal's option offense, a tackle for a loss is just like a sack on the half back.
The two keys to this game will be Morris ability to run Dergo on Normal's defense & stopping the Ironmen's option. If the Redskins can score early their defense can help them ride this one out and bring home a title for a town that lives for it's football.
by Vincent Johnson