The Wildcats will face another quality opponent Friday night when the team travels to New Manchester to face another fast and talented team.
“Allatoona and East Paulding are some of the top teams in the region. But still, we are where we are and we know that,” Woodland head coach Vince DiLorenzo said. “If the kids are looking at whether or not they can make the playoffs and have a winning season, we can still accomplish those things.”
New Manchester is currently 3-0 and has handily defeated its opponents thus far.
“[New Manchester] has a running back that’s difficult to tackle. They have a quarterback that’s a Vince Young-type. He’s tall and athletic,” DiLorenzo said. “They run the spread offense. Their defense is very athletic. They run to the football very well. They will lock up and play man with their secondary because they’re confident.”
The Wildcats have struggled to put up points in their first three games and have been shut out the last two. As a result, they might try something different at quarterback Friday.
“We’re still looking at who’s going to start,” DiLorenzo said of the quarterback situation. “Tanner [Self] will play more this week than he has in the past. If Mason [Robinson] isn’t our quarterback, he’ll be at wide receiver. He’s too good of an athlete to have on the bench. We are looking at ways to maximize our offensive personnel.
“Offensively, I think that something good will happen. We just need something good to happen to gain some confidence that we can score the football and we can move the football. We’ve moved the football at times, but we haven’t put together a drive and we haven’t figured out a way to get the ball to the guys who can do something with it once they get it.”
After sustaiing a few disappointing losses, DiLorenzo still believes his team can put something together to make a run in the final seven games of the season.
“It’s not a sprint, it’s a marathon. Each game, you have to get better and you have to treat each game like it’s the most important game of the year,” he said. “We have to forget about everything that’s happened in the past and I think that’s easier said than done, especially for 16-year old kids. But it’s our job as coaches to help them forget and build on something positive and try to reinforce the positive.”
One of the keys for Woodland, offensively, this week will be to try and establish a passing game that has been absent through the first three weeks of the season. New Manchester will lock up in man-to-man coverage, which means Woodland’s receivers will have to win the one-on-one matchups in order to get open for whomever the quarterback will be.
“I think when you have a team that locks up and plays man, that’s a lot of people in the box. So you have to figure out how to beat man coverage,” DiLorenzo said.
Woodland’s defense has done some good things in the first three games of the season and will look to do it more often against a dynamic New Manchester offense.
“Defensively, since they run the spread, do you try to contain the quarterback and then defend the pass or do you try to stop the pass more? Our defensive coordinator has looked at that and decided which way to go,” DiLorenzo said. “I think defensively we played really well last week, and that gave us some confidence.”
Fans who attend the game Friday night may also be treated to some trickery.
“They have run two fake punts in three games, so they are a team that will carry three or four trick plays that they can run any time,” DiLorenzo said. “We have to be fundamentally sound. So the strategy is we need to hit and be physical and fundamentally sound on defense and we need to put points on the board on offense.”
Ultimately, Woodland will need a quality defensive effort and to score enough points to compete with New Manchester. If the team can hang with the Trojans, Woodland can draw some confidence to make a run in the second half of the season.