Plymouth football coach John Barron knows what to expect when the Northridge Raiders come calling Friday night.
But that doesn’t mean the Raiders will be easy to stop.
Northridge has beaten the Rockies the last three seasons, including a wild 37-34 win last season and a 12-0 victory in 2017.
The Raiders enter the game with a 3-0 record and are ranked 11th in Class 4A. Plymouth is 2-1 with a tough loss to East Noble in its opener, but a victory over Warsaw last week pushed the Rockies up to No. 10 in 4A. Both teams are 1-0 in the Northern Lakes Conference.
“This is a very similar Northridge team to those in the past in the fact that they’re very aggressive and want to run the football,’’ Barron said. “They’re very well coached of course and the pull and trap better than anyone we play. The three guys they have in the backfield are all big and look like linebackers, which they are defensively.’’
Senior Caid Lacey leads the Raiders with 382 yards rushing this season, including 219 in a victory over Wawasee last Friday. Lacey also scored three touchdowns in the win. Dominic Crowder has rushed for 262 yards this season and averages nearly seven-yards-a-carry.
Meanwhile, quarterback Oliver Eveler has thrown for 334 yards and four scores this year.
“(Northridge coach) Tom Wogomon is like a lot of us, he’s very stubborn,’’ Barron said. “He has big guys on the offensive line and they’ll sprinkle in some option plays now and then, but they want to just run power and the counter until you can prove you can stop it. Unfortunately for us, we haven’t stopped it very well the past three years.
“The thing that strikes you when you turn their film on is how well they get off the ball, finish their plays offensively and really run to the football defensively. Those are the reasons they’ve had the success they’ve had.’’
While Plymouth’s offense was much like Northridge’s for years, for the past two years, the Rockies’ have become ‘Air Barron.’
That’s not only named for the coach, but also his son, quarterback Joe Barron.
Joe Barron has completed 60 of his 108 passes this season for a whopping 826 yards and nine touchdowns. He has two 6-foot-3 receivers on the outside in junior Jake Reichard and senior Garrett Schrameyer, as well as a strong slot receiver in Seth Rundell who returned from a pre-season ankle injury against Warsaw and caught eight passes for 147 yards and a pair of touchdowns.
“We’ve surrounded Joe with a big offensive line and some weapons and he’s throwing the ball well,’’ John Barron said. “He’s always been an accurate passer and this year the line is giving him good windows to throw through and he’s making really good decisions with the ball. I also think he’s become a much better leader this season.’’
Due to injuries, the Rockies are on their fourth running back of the young season. However, that back – junior Ivan Winkle – rushed for 147 yards against Warsaw last week, including an 80-yard touchdown run the first time he touched the ball out of the backfield in his career.
“He’s just an explosive runner,’’ Barron said of Winkle. “I’m not sure he knows what he’s doing back there yet, so we’re just giving him the ball, letting him run and our line is opening some seams for him.’’
The game will be the Channel 46 Game of the Week, with Chuck Freeby, Bob Nagle and Bo Hundt doing the game from ‘The Rockpile.’ It will be broadcast at 11 p.m. Friday and 9 a.m. on Saturday.
• SHARPE HONORED: As I wrote about in July, longtime Jimtown coach Bill Sharpe will be honored prior to Friday’s Northern Indiana Conference game featuring John Glenn and the Jimmies.
Sharpe coached Jimtown to four state championships and two runner-up finishes in 28 years of coaching in Baugo Township.
The Baugo School Board announced this summer that the new-look football stadium at Jimtown in his honor. The facility will now be known as Sharpe Stadium and Knepp Field.
Sharpe, who posted a 288-54 record in his career at Jimtown, is expected to be joined by many if not all of his former assistant coaches, as well as a number of former players.
The ceremony is scheduled to start about 6:45 p.m. Friday prior to the game.
The game will also mark the first time the Jimmies have played on their new turf field. It’s also a Northern Indiana Conference South Division game. Jimtown is 1-0 in the league, while Glenn is 1-1.
• ROST UPDATE: Elkhart Memorial junior defensive back Dylan Rost, who suffered a severe concussion against Goshen last Friday, will miss this week’s game against Warsaw.
Rost, one of the team’s top tacklers, wasn’t even scheduled to be back in school this week until Thursday, according to his mother, Memorial athletic director Jacquie Rost.
Benton Harbor at Elkhart Central
Warsaw at Elkhart Memorial (C)
John Glenn at Jimtown (C)
Concord at Wawasee (C)
Northridge at Plymouth (C)
Goshen at NorthWood (C)
Fairfield at Fremont
St. Xavier at Penn
All games set for 7 p.m.