August 27, 2009 1:16:00 PM
If the first week of the season is any indication, it will be a game of contrasting styles when Heritage Academy plays at Winston Academy on Friday.
Heritage Academy kept the ball on the ground and Winston Academy put the ball in the air in their season openers this past Friday.
Heritage Academy rolled up 268 yards on the ground in beating Oak Hill Academy 47-14, while Winston Academy threw 38 passes in a 20-13 loss to Leake Academy.
Heritage Academy and Winston Academy will put the defenses to the test at 7 p.m. Friday.
"We feel like they have to stop our running game just like we have to stop their passing game," Heritage Academy first-year coach Brad Butler said.
Heritage Academy spread the wealth with seven players getting a carry. The leading rusher was John Laws Ferguson with 58 yards on three attempts, followed Chris Uhl with 57 yards on four carries, quarterback Will Swedenburg with 50 yards on five tries, and Tyler Marchak with 35 yards on three carries.
The Patriots averaged 9.8 yards per carry.
Butler credited his team''s blocking for its success running the ball.
"I was real pleased (with the running game)," Butler said. "I went back and watched the film and I thought we looked better on film than we did during the ballgame. That''s very, very rare.
"I thought we handled them up front. They were very big up front, but they weren''t very quick and we were able to use our quickness. We didn''t have a missed assignment up front."
Swedenburg threw just two passes and completed one for a 26-yard touchdown to Will West and had one intercepted. He threw another pass for a touchdown, but it was nullified by a holding penalty.
Meanwhile, Winston Academy plans to throw the ball that many times. Coach Wyatt Rogers believes a passing offense is suited for quarterback Tyler Sullivan, a 6-foot-3, 220-pound sophomore.
"I would like it to be 50-50, but it''s not," Rogers said. "It''s probably 80-20 pass. We throw the ball. We''re going to throw the football. That''s what we''re going to do. With that there''s going to be some risk. We''ve got a sophomore quarterback who started his first game in two or three years and a bunch of guys who had never played a varsity football game for four quarters."
Thus Butler is preparing his team for an aerial assault and Rogers is getting his team ready for Heritage Academy''s ground attack.
Winston Academy completed 22 passes against Leake Academy.
"They''re good," Butler said. "They''ve got a big quarterback who just stands back there and gets the ball out of his hand quick. That scares me. We''re going to have to get some pressure on him.
"We''ve got to get some help from our linebackers in the passing game. We can''t put it all on our defensive backs. The linebackers are going to have to help us in the passing game more than they have had to in the past."
Rogers said his team is going to have to play solid on defense to stop Heritage Academy''s running game.
"I think they''re very, very talented," Rogers said. "I think their offensive line does a tremendous job. They''ve got some physical running backs. Their quarterback does a good job of running the football and he does a good job throwing it, too. You''ve just got to be solid and wrap up and tackle."
Although Heritage Academy had success on the ground and Winston Academy let it fly the opening week, Butler and Rogers would like to see their teams be more balanced offensively.
"I would like for us to throw the ball more," Butler said. "I felt like the other night we probably could have, but it wasn''t something we needed to have. We want to try to be balanced. I''d say probably 60-40 to the run side. I feel like if we can run the ball good enough that''s going to open up the passing game a little bit more for us."
Said Rogers, "We''re trying to find a way to run the ball. We''re trying to find a way to make it more balanced, but we''re going to throw the football. We''re four wide, shotgun, no huddle. We''re not going to try to have one of those conservative mind-sets. We''re going to let it fly and try to have some fun with it. But you''ve got to win to have fun, and I understand that."
Winston Academy will attempt to bounce back after taking a 13-0 lead in the first quarter against Leake Academy and then surrendering 20 points in the second half.