Editor's note: This story had a deck headline with an incorrect time of the game. The error has been fixed.
When Aberdeen Roncalli (9-0) and Parkston (7-2) square off in the quarterfinals of the Class 11B football playoffs tonight, expect there to be a power struggle.
Both teams will be looking to establish the line of scrimmage when the contest kicks off at 6:30 p.m. today at Swisher Field.
Roncalli’s offensive line played a key role in a school-record 64-point outburst last week.
“We did a pretty good job up front,” said Roncalli coach Terry Dosch, noting his line fired off the ball and also provided solid protection on pass plays. “We have kids that are capable of making big plays. Again, the bottom line is what do you do up front?”
Parkston also relied on its line to fuel a potent rushing attack in its first-round victory.
“I think our line is pretty strong, both offensively and defensively,” said Parkston coach Eric Norden. “It’s one of those things where as long as they’re producing, we’re probably going to be able to do some things.”
Dosch knows that the Trojans have a tendency to play smash-mouth football.
“Kind of what they’ve shown is they like to come right at you,” Dosch said. “They’re kind of a wishbone power team. We just have to make sure that we do a good job up front and limit their opportunities.”
Both teams have relied on their defense to piece together stellar seasons.
“When you’re running the ball a lot, you need to be able to keep the score a little lower so you have your chances later in the games,” Norden noted. “If we can put a drive together and suck up six, seven, eight minutes, that makes a big difference on the defensive side of the ball.”
Roncalli gave up points at home for the first time all season last week. A factor in a couple of those scores was giving up the big play.
“The big thing is we probably didn’t execute defensively as well as we have in a few games,” Dosch said. “Part of that is a lack of concentration, which then leads to lack of execution. It’s just a matter of making sure that we’re focused and then have solid technique.”
Norden knows his squad will have to find a way to slow down the Cavaliers, who have scored more than 40 points on four different occasions this season.
“We have to be able to keep Roncalli from scoring a lot of points early,” Norden said. “Defensively, we have to be able to shut some of their stuff down. Offensively, we just have to run our style of football and be able to run up and down the field.”
The teams have not played any common opponents this season, but saw each other at a team camp last summer. Both sides came away impressed with the other.
“I thought they looked like a good football team then,” Dosch said, adding there has been nothing to change his mind since. He said the Cavaliers need to “batten down the hatches and be prepared for a tough game.”
Norden understands the challenges Roncalli will present this evening.