Rudloff’s message rings true; the Panthers haven’t hurt themselves this season, but rather inflicted a whole lot of hurt on their opponents. Defensively, their ball-hawking ways have resulted in interceptions, fumble recoveries and a minimum of big plays allowed.
On the other side of the ball, the Orange-and-Black have rung up some video game-like numbers, averaging more than 38 points scored per contest while outscoring their foes by a whopping 277 points, by far the best mark in BHS history.
Bauer, who put his team through an outdoor practice Tuesday until darkness set in before many of the players retreated inside to watch film, is cautioning his team not only against a very strong Marblehead club, but the outside influences that could affect a less focused team.
“We’ve said to them all along, ‘Obviously, there are going to be people very excited about this game, everyone’s going to be talking about it. People who weren’t all that interested in you at the beginning of the season are going to be really interested all of a sudden,” Bauer said. “But we need to keep the focus on ourselves, let’s work to get better and let’s go play.’”
If Marblehead has an edge in Saturday’s matchup, it might be that their linemen are, on average, bigger than the speedier Panther trench guys. Magicians such as Ty Bates, Liam Gillis, Tom Koopman and Kyle McCormack aren’t just large bodies; they’re agile, athletic and work well in unison to open up holes and provide substantial pass blocking for quarterback Ian Maag.
Senior captain Zac Cuzner and sophomore breakout star Brooks Tyrrell have combined with Maag to form a three-headed monster out of the Marblehead backfield, running for a combined 1,577 yards and 21 touchdowns. Maag (90 for 144, 1,273 yards, 13 TDs) has also had success putting the ball up and finding receivers such as Brian Daly (21 catches for 353 yards, 4 TDs), Jeremy Gillis (28 for 341, 3 TDs), Dylan Cressy (15 for 239, 2 TDs) and Nick Perry (6 for 142, TD).