Controlling tempo of the game will be a key for the Deerfield High School football team (2-4) when it meets Maine East (2-4) at 7:30 p.m. tonight in Park Ridge after its first full week of practice in three weeks.
After defeating Maine West, 35-7, in front of a homecoming crowd Friday at Adams Field, Coach Steve Winiecki recognizes what the Warriors will have to do against a big Blue Demon team. Maine East has the ability to keep Deerfield’s defense on the field.
“They’re adept at keeping the ball,” Winiecki said. “They have a big line and big backs. They absolutely hold on to the ball and run the clock down.”
When the Warriors are on defense, Winiecki knows performance on first and third down will make a difference between smothering the Blue Demon attack or keeping the Deerfield defenders on the field a long time.
“It will be smash mouth football,” Winiecki said. “We need to hit them on first and third down. We want them to have second and long and third and long.” More practice time this week gave the Warriors an opportunity to perfect those talents.
With Deerfield enjoying the luxury of its first full week of workouts since the third week of the season because of the school calendar, the team had time to pay more attention to personal skills as well as preparation for Maine East.
“It was good to have a full week of practice,” Winiecki said. “We got back to some stuff with extra time for individual work. On defense we worked on tackling, on offense on blocking technique and on special teams we worked on kicking and returning.”
On offense, junior Ben Ethridge will be making his third start at quarterback. In the last two games against Glenbrook North and Maine West, Ethridge injected life into Deerfield’s passing game. Winiecki will wait to see what defensive schemes the Blue Demons use before deciding how much to throw the ball.
“If the stack the box, we’ll go outside and if they spread it out we’ll go inside,” Winiecki said. “We’ll run our offense and that will determine the outcome.”