Tigers tackle top seed in playoff opener

by Greg Ceilley of The Review staff

HOWARDS GROVE — The Howards Grove Tigers’ defense, which has played well this season, will face a stiff challenge when it tackles Racine St. Catherine’s highpowered offense in a Division 5 firstround state football playoff game Friday night.

The contest, a rematch of a firstround playoff game two years ago (won by the Angels, 27-7), kicks off at 7 p.m. at St. Catherine’s. The Angels, 8-1 overall and champions of the Metro Classic Conference at 7-0, are seeded No. 1. HGHS, 4-5, is a No. 8 seed.

“Saint Catherine’s is a good football team. We saw that first- hand two years ago. They have won two playoff games [each] the last two seasons,” said Tiger head coach Da- vid Schmid.

“They are well-coached and play to their strengths. They play good defense an have some size and quickness on their offense.”

Sophomore tailback Ernest Cobb leads the Angels in rushing with 938 yards and 16 touchdowns. Senior quarterback Andrew Smith has thrown for 1,305 yards and 16 TDs. The Angels leading receiver is sophomore Titonaro Bumpus with a team-high 28 receptions, 746 yards and eight TDs.

The Angels are averaging a whopping 35.2 points per game.

Kelly Thomas [lineman] is 6-feet- 6, 240 pounds and can move his feet very well. He is tough to run on when he is on defense,” said Schmid.

“Their quarterback is a dualthreat athlete. He is a quick, powerful runner with good speed. Cobb is a very quick, elusive runner.

“On defense, Jose Ramirez is their middle linebacker. He has good size and strength and can move pretty well to.”

Schmid pointed out the keys for his team to pull off an upset.

“We have to limit their big plays with good fundamentals and tackling. They have scored quite a few long touchdowns, both running and passing,” he said.

“We will have to control the clock with long, sustained drives that have to result in touchdowns. Finally, we will have to win the field-position battle.

“It is a tough match-up but we have some size to match up with them as well. We have the edge in experience as we have 12 seniors to their five,” Schmid noted.

Schmid, whose team bounced back from an 0-3 start this season, feels his team is playing its best football now.

“Our defense has played well for a majority of the season and needs to play well again Friday,” said the coach.

“We played some good teams in our early nonconference schedule, all [three] of which have made the playoffs. While they did not result in wins, we did learn a lot about ourselves and what it takes to be winners and the attitude we need to come to practice with each day.”

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