By Lisa Byers
Since the end of last season, the Cambridge Springs football team has been working toward one key goal: Putting a mark in the win column for the north in the District 10 Class A playoffs.
But not once in 10 games have the Blue Devils seen a team like the one it will need to beat tonight to achieve said goal.
Cambridge Springs’ defensive focus, like many other teams in District 10, is generally getting after the opposing team’s running game and forcing it to make something happen in the air.
“We really have to get after their passing game and quarterback and force them to run,” Cambridge Springs coach Clint Rauscher said. “Pretty much the opposite of everything you normally do.”
Mercer and Cambridge Springs meet tonight at 7 p.m. at Veterans Stadium.
Mercer (8-2) relies heavily on its passing game and the feet of quarterback Logan Clarke. Clarke has thrown for 1,915 yards, completing 126 of 239 attempts with 23 touchdowns and seven interceptions.
Clarke is also the Mustangs’ leading rusher with 538 yards on 104 carries. He has scored two rushing touchdowns.
“We haven’t see anybody like them,” Rauscher said. “Eisenhower kind of ran an upbeat spread, but it’s not quite like this. (The Mustangs) spread you out and try to isolate your (defensive) backs and make them mismatch.”
Cambridge Springs has tried to simulate the Mustangs at practice, but there is one area Rauscher said causes him concern.
“We use a coach who has really researched and understands what the kids are trying to accomplish, but you can’t really simulate the quarterback draw and scramble with a coach,” Rauscher said. “My concerns are about isolating the quarterback and giving him too much leeway in the open, because (Clarke) can run and he can run well.”
The key is keeping the ball out of Mercer’s hands all together.
“The last three weeks we’ve been real solid,” Rauscher said. “I’m excited about our opportunity. We just want to get the ball in our hands.
“We’ve put points on the board against everyone. If we keep it in our hands and pound the ball. I do believe we have a pretty good chance here. What (today) brings who knows. We have to play errorless, but I like our chances.”
The Blue Devils do possess a pretty athletic club and have some pretty outstanding numbers themselves offensively. Colton Noble has had an outstanding year. He leads the Blue Devils and ranks fourth in District 10 with 1,518 yards rushing. Zach Stafford (618) and Devin Walker (583) are also over the 500-yard mark.
Walker has also completed 39 of 91 passes for 734 yards.