Bulldogs go from stopping the big play to stopping the ground and pound

News-DemocratNovember 9, 2013 

— After playing an explosive team that could pile up points in a hurry last week, the Highland Bulldogs now face a team that likes to play old-fashioned, smash-mouth football.

"I don't think they could be anymore opposite of who we faced last week in Carbondale," Highland coach Jimmy Warnecke said of playing the Bartonville Limestone Rockets in the second round of the Class 5A playoffs. "They're a ball-control offense with 3 yards and a cloud of dust. One of the biggest things for us on Saturday is trying to keep their offense off the field."

The Rockets notched their first playoff win since 1991 last week as they beat Jerseyville 47-27.

Junior running back Dominic Johnson rushed for 292 yards and five touchdowns against Jerseyville.

"He's a big boy," Warnecke said of the 5-foot-11, 195-pound Johnson. "Our plan isn't to tackle him too high, I tell you that."

Today's game: Bartonville Limestone (9-1) at Highland (10-0) 2 p.m.

Wake-up call: Warnecke said the Bulldogs won't be looking past anybody after Carbondale scored 20 unanswered second-half points to trim a 27-0 halftime deficit to 27-20.

The Bulldogs ended up winning 34-20.

Warnecke said has since talked with his players about what happened last Saturday.

"I think the general sentiment was that some of the boys in the locker room thought we were going to go out there and the second half was going to be the same as the first and we'd do what we have done all year long to teams, where we have one or two drives in the second half and our second-stringers are in," Warnecke said. "Carbondale came to play, they outplayed us in the second half, I'll be the first to admit it.

"This will be the last week these seniors will play on this field, I would presume having two home games already. We are definitely not looking past these guys. They are a solid football team. They are physical up front. We have to perform better than what we did."

Common opponent: Both teams routed Jerseyville this season as Highland beat the Panthers 45-18 earlier this season.

"Because Jerseyville runs a spread offense like us, that helps," Warnecke said. "Having a common opponent helps, but I think it's just a different Jerseyville team that played in Round 1 of the playoffs than what we played in Week 4. They're beat up. They looked really banged up.'

Bartonville-Limestone players to watch: RB Dominic Johnson (237 carries, 1,516 rushing yards, 16 TDs); QB Adam Schmitt (53 of 105 passing for 910 yards and eight TDs in the regular season); WR Calvin Peacock (12 catches for 277 yards and three TDs); WR Cody Rupp (20 catches for 222 yards and one TD).

Highland players to watch: QB Mack Waldman (82 of 119 passing for 1,684 yards with 20 TDs and 3 Ints.); RB Andrew Winning (111 carries for 1,203 yards and 14 TDs); Gage Geiger (117 carries for 1,058 yards and 25 TDs); WR Logan Geiger (21 catches for 513 yards and eight TDs); DE Blake Perfetti (67 tackes, 5 sacks, two Ints.).

Notes: The Rockets' lone loss this season was a 31-14 decision to Washington, which is 10-0 and still alive in the Class 5A playoffs. ... RB Gage Geiger (ankle), WR Logan Geiger (neck) and RT-DE Nick Czar (knee) are banged up for the Bulldogs. ... The Highland-Bartonville Limestone winner will play either Springfield Sacred Heart-Griffin (10-0) or Chatham Glenwood (8-2) in the quarterfinals.

Contact reporter Steve Korte at skorte@bnd.com or 239-2522.

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