So far this year, no one has come close to stopping the running game of Eau Claire Regis.
St. Mary’s Springs coach Bob Hyland isn’t quite sure how his team’s defense is going to stop the Ramblers (12-0) in today’s Division 6 championship game, but he had some interesting ideas.
“If our 11-man front doesn’t work, we’ll probably have to go with our power 12, if we can get away with it,” Hyland joked during a teleconference this week with statewide media. “Kidding aside, we have to stop their run.
“They have a great, deceptive running attack. They have very, very quick backs and it’s going to be a monstrous chore for us to stop that, so we might have to score some points.”
Regis typically runs a very tight double wing formation. The Ramblers run a deceptive misdirection offense and spread the carries around. According to stats provided by the WIAA, Regis has four guys with at least 370 yards led by Khadel Akindolire’s 918 yards and 15 touchdowns.
“We really believe to be successful in the postseason and in our conference, you have to have a way to run the football,” Regis coach Bryant Brenner said. “It’s how we chose to run our offense. We’re blessed with smaller, quicker linemen.”
Stopping Regis’ running game is easier said that done, even for a 12-0 Springs team that has allowed just 59 points all season. Regis beat Stratford 50-0 and Colby 29-14. Both of those teams reached at least the third round of the playoffs.
Of course, the same problem exists for Regis. Springs versatile offense has hung at least 35 on every team it has played except for Shiocton. Running backs Darin Ward and Ike Floyd both have more than 1,000 rushing yards, and Evan Henderson has topped 1,300 passing yards.
It will certainly be the toughest test Regis’ defense has faced, but Brenner said his club’s defense is prepared for the big stage.
“We made it to the finals (in 2009) and we got beat pretty handily,” the fifth-year Regis coach said. “It taught us a lot, and we had to play better defense. If you’re going to win a championship you have to have a tough defense. We’ve finally gotten our defense to the point where that can be a trademark of our team.”
Defense and running the ball have served both teams well. Today they find out who does it better.