Playoff bound?

Published 12:00 am Thursday, October 8, 2009

When the Goshen Eagles and the Francis Marion Rams clash Friday night, it will be a battle of two teams heading in completely opposite directions.

Goshen (3-3, 3-1) is coming off of a big region win over R.C. Hatch, while Marion (0-6, 0-4) is reeling after a 22-6 loss to previously winless Highland Home.

In fact, Marion has been outscored 274-42 in its six games this year, an average score of over 45-7 in favor of the Rams’ opponents.

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While many may be eager to go ahead and place a fourth checkmark in the win column for Goshen, head coach Bart Snyder said Marion is a team to fear.

“With Marion having the athletes that they do, you have to respect them,” Snyder said.

The Rams could be problematic for Goshen, especially since the two teams did not trade game films. Rather, Snyder and his staff have had to rely on word of mouth while preparing for Friday’s game.

“We know they’re going to run a spread offense, and with the success they have had in basketball, you know they have got some athletes at that school,” Snyder said. “You can pretty much count on that.”

The Rams have developed a reputation for attempting to use rarely seen gadget plays on offense, something Snyder said the Eagles have spent a lot of time preparing for.

“We know they’re going to run some trick plays, like reverses and lateral passes and things like that, so we just have to do a good job as coaches of preparing our players and making sure they keep their containment,” Snyder said.

Defensively, Snyder said he expects the Rams to show a five-man front most of the game, a front that is led by six-foot-four, 230-pound defensive end Shaquel Arrington.

“They’re usually pretty aggressive defensively, and they have Arrington, who is real big and real athletic,” Snyder said. “If he gets going, he’s almost impossible to stop.”

For Goshen, the Eagles have placed a huge emphasis on improving the play of the offensive line.

“We’ve have just got to learn to maintain our blocks,” Snyder said. “We need to be aggressive along the offensive line and be sure to bring a little bit more intensity.”

The Eagles also know that they must continue to improve in the passing game in order to open things up for the running tandem of Marcus Jackson and Reginald Foster.

“When we throw the ball and we get our hands on it, we have to be sure that we catch the ball,” Snyder said. “Teams have known all year that we are going to try to run the football. So, when they start walking people up to stop the run, the only way that we will be able to free up space for our running game is to complete some passes and make people respect that part of our game.”

With Marion being winless thus far, Snyder said he is concerned about his team possibly overlooking the Rams.

However, Snyder said the team’s focus has been impressive leading into Friday’s game.

“There have been situations where our coaches have talked about the future, and our kids have actually reminded them that the only team that can beat us is the team we’re playing this week. That’s something we preached to them at the beginning of the season, and they have done a really good job of buying into that.”

For Goshen, a win would guarantee it a winning record in region play, something Snyder said has helped the team to keep its focus.

“One of the goals we set for this team was to not only have a winning season, but to make the playoffs and get to play at home in either the first or second round of the playoffs,” Snyder said. “Our kids are working hard, and they have really begun to believe in themselves. A win Friday would just put us one step closer to achieving the goals we set at the beginning of the season.”

Goshen and Marion will play Friday in Marion at 7 p.m.