No. 8 Raiders, No. 6 Southern Calhoun battle for at-large bid.
ALBERT CITY - Bill McCabe thinks if his defense can stop all-state running back Ryan Kock, then his LM-ACT team has a good chance of winning and claiming an at-large playoff berth.
The LM-ACT coach doesn't think his offense will be shut down by Southern Calhoun's defense.
That's the game-within-the-game scenario when No. 6 Southern Calhoun visits Albert City on Friday night to take on No. 8-ranked LM-ACT.
The winner has a favorable chance of making the playoffs.
"It's not a guarantee, but there's a good chance," McCabe said. "If the winner wins by 13 points, they are automatically in."
"It's kind of like a playoff game," McCabe added. "We have to be focused. I think it's more the mental part of the game and taking care of responsibilities."
The key for the Raiders is to shut down Kock, who averages 160 yards a game and has scored 18 TDs this season.
"We've scored at least four touchdowns every game," McCabe said. "No team has really shut us down, so I think the key would be our defense trying to stop them."
Because of the playoff system that is currently being used, both teams will try to score as many points as possible to get that 13-point win margin.
"We have to try and score as many points as we can against this defense," McCabe said. "They have a two-point advantage over us. They have the advantage if they win a close game."
McCabe offered a scouting report on the Mustangs.
"Offensively, they're a running team," he said. "They play a straight T with three backs in the backfield. They have a very good running back in Kock. He's big and fast. We're going to have to do a good job of controlling him. They have another back who runs a counter sweep and we have to take care of our responsibilities or he'll pop a big one. We have to be really disciplined."
"They'll probably be the best defense we've played all year," McCabe added. "They have some big and fast kids. We're going to have to be on top of our game. I think we're going to have to run the ball and pass the ball to be successful. When we do it, we have to have it spread out and make them defend the whole field. We have to find the weakness in their defense and attack it."
Both teams present problems for the other.
"We spread the field and we can pass or run," McCabe said. "We have a good running back (Hale Hawley) and our quarterback (Jason Brechler) is hitting over 60 percent of his passes. That's the problem for them ... the balance of our offense. What they create for us is a big, strong running attack. We know what they're going to do ... it's just can we stop it. With a running team, you've got to make them throw the ball."
McCabe talked about containing Southern Calhoun's powerful running game.
"We have to tackle low," he said. "If you take Kock up high he'll just carry you. They'll control the clock and take it right down the field. We can't give up long drives because that keeps our offense off the field."