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Clash a prep for playoffs

JIM REESE
Published October 31, 2004

REFELECTIONS: JESUIT (6-1) visited Jefferson (6-2) for the Class 3A, District 10 title Friday night. Jefferson won, 51-14, to clinch the title and homefield for the first round of the playoffs; Jesuit will travel to open the playoffs. Saturday, the two coaches, Bill Schmitz of Jesuit and Mike Simmonds of Jefferson, had a three-way phone conversation with the Times to discuss the game.

It's hard to have a turning point in a 51-14 game, gentlemen, but when do you think it happened?

BILL SCHMITZ: How about the opening kickoff? But seriously, going into the game I figured we might have a 49-48 game like Brandon had with Jefferson (which Brandon won Sept. 17). And when we scored with 3:37 left in the first half to pull within 17-7, I thought if we held them at that point; we might be able to get back in the game because we were getting the second half kickoff, but they took the ball and drove it down the field on us. I think that was the turning point.

MIKE SIMMONDS: We wanted to come out and show our gun-run offense early because we had been throwing a lot the past couple of games. So when we were able to run the ball well that first series and score without throwing a pass, I thought that helped us a lot.

Coach Schmitz, did it surprise you that Jefferson had those four long drives in the first half, scoring points each time?

SCHMITZ: It didn't really surprise me because they are very talented, very fast, and very well coached. We had seen their gun-run offense last year and I felt we knew it. Our problem was we simply did not defend against it well. Not taking anything away from Jefferson, but in those first two series, we just did not defend well.

Share how each of you saw the play of the offensive lines in the game.

SCHMITZ: I thought our offensive line played well at times but not consistently. Jefferson likes to bring another defender up into the box to disrupt the run. Getting (behind) put our offensive game at a disadvantage because we had to pass often and then their defensive line, which is very talented, could put their ears back and really come at you, and that's exactly what happened.

SIMMONDS: Being a former offensive lineman, I know how an offensive line can dictate the whole tempo of the game. We have a senior-laden offensive line that seems to be getting better as the season moves on. They did a good job and did exactly what our coaches told them to do. (Jefferson gained 325 yards rushing; its average coming in was 196 a game.)

How big a factor do you think speed was in the game?

SIMMONDS: We know we have a lot of speed on our team, and we also have good depth, so we were able to move fast players in and out of the game. I think we might have worn Jesuit down a bit because we have a philosophy that we want to make teams run a lot on defense, not just north and south but sideline to sideline as well, and I think that's what happened.

SCHMITZ: Going into the game, we knew we had to negate their speed and we just weren't able to do it. On defense, we weren't able to slow them down and on offense, we couldn't get anything going until (a 70-yard touchdown) drive in the second quarter.

Coach Schmitz, what did you see when you sent in the play that your running back Anthony Allen scored on after a 17-yard burst up the middle?

SCHMITZ: It wasn't a special call or anything. It's a play in our book and when we saw their 50 defense, we thought we would be able to control the nose tackle and isolate the linebacker, and Anthony would be able to pick up yardage. He did a real fine job of getting the score by running hard near the goal line.

Coach Simmonds, you got the ball back with 3:37 left in the half on your own 20 with all three timeouts left. You drove the field and scored with 16 seconds left in the half and did not use a single timeout. That was cutting it close, wasn't it?

SIMMONDS: We were in what we call our "May Day" or hurry-up offense. Our kids are trained to get together quickly and get going after each play. If we get first downs, the clock stops and we don't need timeouts. And that is what happened. We easily could have used timeouts but as things developed, we didn't need to.

Discuss the play of your quarterbacks, Chris Uhrig of Jesuit (16-29) and Steven Garcia of Jefferson (16-21.)

SCHMITZ: I thought Chris played very well but again when you fall behind, you play right into the hands of the defense because they know you have to pass. And I'll also comment that I thought Steven Garcia was outstanding for Jefferson.

SIMMONDS: Yes, I was very pleased with Steven, only a sophomore, running our offense so well. He has matured very nicely as a leader for our team.

You are both assured of playoff games. How do you prepare your teams now for the postseason with one game left?

SCHMITZ: Naturally, our kids were down after last night, but that is the first bad game we've had this year. We have played some very good teams real well this year and I know we'll bounce back. We have a resolute and talented bunch of players at Jesuit and we'll use next week's game against Tampa Catholic to re-group and get ready for the postseason.

SIMMONDS: We were playing for the homefield advantage against Jesuit and we were fortunate enough to win. But they are in the playoffs now as are we, and anything can happen there. It's a whole new season for both of us and it's possible we may even play each other again. I know it was a painful loss for Jesuit, but heck, they are still in the same tournament as we are now, and we'll both be driving hard to the end. We have Hillsborough next week and that'll be a great test for us. They are undefeated and we'll have to be at our very best to win.

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