There are good and bad things about facing your archrival in the third round of the state playoffs, said Porter Ridge coach Blair Hardin, whose Pirate squad will host Sun Valley on Friday, Nov. 16, in the Class 4A regional semifinals.
“Our kids are real familiar with their personnel and what they do schematically,” Hardin said. “It’s good to be familiar with a team instead of getting three game films and not knowing anything about them, which happens in the playoffs. We do know a lot about this team.”
And, of course, that goes both ways. Throw in the emotion that goes along with a rivalry game, and Hardin said he’s had his team focus on the basics of “execution, limiting our mistakes and protecting the football.”
“We’re really not focusing on Sun Valley,” Hardin said. “It’s the third round of the playoffs, so things like special teams, executing and limiting our mistakes have really been our focus, not Sun Valley as much.
“It’s going to be loud. There have been a lot of people talking about the game this week. There’s going to be tons of people. We can’t control any of that.”
The Pirates also can’t control the fate of star running back/safety Chris Duffy, who left last week’s game after just five carries with an injured shoulder. Hardin called Duffy “day-to-day.”
When asked if Duffy would play this week, Hardin replied, “I hope so. We have a Plan A and a Plan B. I hate it because you want to have your best player whenever you’re playing a game like this, but the next guy has to be ready.”
Last week Jerrick Robbins stepped in and rushed for 111 yards on 19 carries.
“He stepped up when Chris went out,” said Hardin. “We put the load on him, and he responded very well.”