Goshen keeps eye on real prize

Published 3:00 am Wednesday, October 15, 2014

By Sean Holohan

GOSHEN – The Goshen High School football team is off to its best start since the 2011 season, currently sitting at 5-2 overall and 4-1 in region play.

The Eagles also secured a playoff birth for the seventh-straight year with a 21-14 homecoming win over Central-Haynesville last week.

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But head coach Bart Snyder was less than impressed with the victory last Friday, and offensive coordinator Jonny Mitchell said he’d like to shoot a little higher than just making the playoffs.

Mitchell said clinching a playoff birth was big for the team, but the Eagles’ next goal is to host a playoff game at home. And with a win Friday at fellow Region 2 school Highland Home, the Eagles will secure that home playoff spot.

“Our aspirations are a little higher than just getting in the playoffs,” Mitchell said. “The biggest thing for us now is to get a home playoff game and host that first round game at home.”

The Eagles were far from perfect in their defeat of Central last week.

The offense turned the ball over four times and the passing game was not as efficient as the coaches would have liked.

Mitchell said the coaching staff is looking to remedy the mistakes the team made in the game and hope to prevent them Friday at Highland.

“The number one thing is we have to hold on to the football,” Mitchell said. “If we can do that, we have a chance to win. We have to get our quarterback some confidence early on and we have to make sure everyone is in the right place against this Highland defense. If we’re not, they can make us look real bad.”

One of the ways Mitchell plans to establish early success on offense is asserting themselves in the run game. Eagle running back Terrainno Griffin has had a few 100-yard rushing games this year and the offense will look to lean on him early in the game.

Once the run game is established, Mitchell said the offense can work in pass plays to keep defenses honest and think twice before putting eight or nine defensive players in the box to stop the running game.

“We are a power-running football team,” Mitchell said. “That is what we are going to do, and that’s what we are going to force people to take away from us. We are going to have to use that to set up the pass.”

But to Mitchell’s delight, the Goshen defense has stepped up the last few weeks to make up for some of the team’s offensive struggles. In last Friday’s win, the Eagle defense made a key goal line stand just before half to keep their lead at eight.

Up to this point in the season, the Eagle defense has made its mark on teams, allowing an average of 19 points per game through seven games.

“Our defense is extremely aggressive,” Mitchell said. “We play best when we’re out there and not having to think. We have good depth and the games that we have played our best is when they were aggressive and we reacted really well.”

Goshen also has gotten help from its special teams.

Last week, a big kick return by Qua Simmons gave the Eagles great field position to work with offensively.

With so much on the line the rest of the season, Goshen coaches are looking to keep players focused on one game at a time.

The home playoff spot is theirs for the taking, and Mitchell said making that happen will rely heavily on playing with consistency.

“Whether it is Monday, Tuesday, wet, cold or dry, we always want to be consistent,” Mitchell said.

“We have always thought if we are teaching the right things and working the right way, that is the key to success.”