Film Breakdown: Blue Springs-Rockhurst
By Dion Clisso PrepsKC Managing Editor
It’s November and the Missouri Class 6 playoffs are in full swing so that must mean Blue Springs and Rockhurst are matched up for another epic battle.
You know these two teams, they’ve won five of the last 10 Class 6 state titles and it seems this playoff battle almost always decides who will be headed to St. Louis. There isn’t much these two teams don’t know about each other so the basics will be as important as ever.
So with very few secrets what should you look for when the Hawklets and Wildcats hook up Friday night at Vincent P. Dasta Stadium? I sat down with former Blue Springs Head Coach and Athletic Director Tim Crone to break down film on both Rockhurst and Blue Springs.
When Rockhurst has the ball
The Hawklets are solid fundamentally and can be easily seen when they are on offense. Rockhurst likes to use several formations including a spread look and bunch receiver formations but the bread and butter is standard pro-set I formation.
Out of the I-formation the Hawklets like to do a few things. They run the ball with the sprint draw and dive plays and throw out of play action with a standard drop and a boot-leg by the quarterback.
“I’ve said it over and over that Rock runs the sprint draw better than anyone,” Crone said. “Their quarterback (Frank) Arbanas has great footwork on that play and the tailback Noah Pearl does a great job of cutting off of the middle linebacker.”
Out of their spread formation the Hawklets like to throw to the tight end but that isn’t quite what it was when standout Dan Tapko was healthy earlier in the season. Tapko has been out since the Jefferson City game in week No. 7 and it looks like he will not play Friday night.
One other thing to look for is the toss sweep out of the three-receiver bunch formation. The Hawklets will lineup with three receivers close to one end of the line of scrimmage and run the toss to that side using the receivers to seal off the edge using superior numbers at the point of attack.
“They like to run that to the side of the bunch every time,” Crone said. “That looks like a passing formation but they like to run out of it. They block it well and that makes it an effective play.”
The Blue Springs defense is pretty much a man to man 4-3 or 4-4 but Crone said one thing that might be to their advantage is to show a little more zone against the Hawklets.
“Blue Springs doesn’t show zone much but the one time they did against Ray-Pec it turned into an interception,” Crone said. “The push up front is good enough that if they show zone some they might be able to force Arbanas into a bad throw and get a turnover.”
When Blue Springs has the ball
The Wildcats have a dynamic weapon on offense in Darrian Miller and they have done a good job of making sure he gets the ball. Much like Rockhurst Blue Springs will come out in a standard pro-set I formation but will show multiple looks to try to confuse the defense.
It would be easy to say hand the ball to Miller and let him do the rest but teams know that. Blue Springs has shown an unbalanced line look at times late in the season with four down lineman to one side and two to the other to force the defense to overshiftto the strong side. This will allow Miller to either use his speed to the weak side of the formation or take advantage of the superior numbers on the strong side.
“The unbalanced look is something a little different,” Crone said. “It just gives the defense another look that they have to think about and gets more bodies to the point of attack. Miller is so good at reading linebackers and cutting off of them there are a lot of different things he can do out of that formation.”
While injuries have depleted the receiver corps of the Wildcats, the passing game has been solid. Junior Kyle Brown has progressed into a confident passer and uses his progressions to find the open man. Look for Blue Springs to roll Brown out and use three receivers on the same side of the field in different depths to give Brown multiple options to deliver the ball.
The Hawklets have long been known as one of the best special teams squads in the Metro. Last week Rockhurst returned a kickoff for a touchdown against BlueSprings South and it was one of the biggest plays of the game.
“They really do a great job on special teams,” Crone said. “Against South they had a great wall and really blocked it well. They allowed the returner to get to full speed before he was ever touched.”
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