Updated Fri, Oct 11, 2013 11:01 am
Normally after playing back-to-back football games against teams both ranked nationally in the top ten, there tends to be an easier game thrown in the next week to help balance a team’s schedule. The team being referred to here is the Marietta Pioneers, and unfortunately for them it doesn’t get any easier this week. The Pioneers tough schedule continues at home this Saturday when they face-off against the 21st-ranked John Carroll Blue Streaks at 1:30 p.m. in Don Drumm Stadium. Marietta must try to overcome last weeks’ brutal 68-17 loss to No. 10 Heidelberg.
The key for the Pioneers’ game this week against an undefeated John Carroll squad is to continue their success in the running game as well as stepping up their defensive effort.
Pioneer running back Tim Conner rushed for 105 yards on 23 carries in last week’s game, and has proved himself as a vital part of Marietta’s offense.
“Tim is a good running back,” said Marietta head coach Andy Waddle, “and our running game is really starting to come together.”
As quarterback uncertainty continues for the Pioneers, Conner will need to shoulder the offensive load in this week’s matchup. However, this will be a very difficult task against a John Carroll defense that Waddle referred to as “absolutely phenomenal and very physical.”
“[John Carroll] can give an offense lots of different looks and any guy on that defense can make a play,” he said.
The Blue Streaks’ defense has only allowed 2.6 yards per rush, and given up just 7 points in their first four games. In three of their four wins, the defense has shut out its opponents, and two of those wins came against Ohio Athletic Conference foes Baldwin Wallace and Otterbein
Marietta, on the other hand, is still searching for its first win of the season, and Conner isn’t the only one that needs to shine this Saturday. The spotlight will also be on the Pioneers’ defense that has given up an average of 58 points a game, and allowed its last two opponents to score a total of 152 points.
“The defense needs to execute at a higher level,” Waddle said. “We’ve missed a lot of tackles in the past few games and have really worked on pursuit, tackling, and getting the fundamentals down.”
The good news for the Pioneers is that they are getting back sophomore linebacker Joe Ortega who recorded a season-high five solo tackles in last year’s game against John Carroll.
In last year’s matchup, John Carroll defeated Marietta 61-14 and the Blue Streaks threw for nearly 500 yards. To make matters worse for Marietta, John Carroll has only gotten better this year coming in at their highest national ranking since Week Four of the 2003 season.
With yet another game against a nationally-ranked team, Marietta looks to not only snap its own losing streak, but also put an end to John Carroll’s four-game winning streak.