TORRINGTON – Torrington begins its march through the playoffs “nine units strong” Friday evening at 7 p.m. against the Evanston Red Devils at Wiseman Field.
Nine units strong is a slogan the team adapted to hold each other accountable. It was inspired by Ohio State University head coach Urban Meyer.
“A lot of that is about accountability. You don’t want to be the weak link,” THS coach Mark Lenhardt said. “You don’t want to be the group who is suffering or hurting the team.”
The nine units refers to the nine positions of the football team – offensive line, tight end, running back, wide receiver, quarterback, defensive line, linebacker, defensive back and special teams.
“We’ve put a huge emphasis on that, yes, we are all one team, but everyone needs to do their job,” Lenhardt said. “It really means each unit is accountable to the team. That is something we talk about. If you have a weak link, it will get exposed.”
It’s something the Blazers will have to be as they move into the second phase of the season against the Red Devils as you can throw the stats, the records out the window.
Yes, Torrington comes into the game as the only undefeated team in Class 3A, while Evanston sports a 5-3 record.
However, Lenhardt was quick to dismiss the records.
“It’s a one-game season,” he said.
The No. 4-seeded Red Devils roll into Wiseman Field riding a two-game losing streak after falling to Jackson and Star Valley.
The big contributing factor to those losses has been turnovers.
“Evanston has had eight turnovers in the last two games,” Lenhardt said. “If they clean that up, it looks like no one has come close to stopping them. They’ve stopped themselves.”
However, the Red Devils don’t have a shortage of talent on that side of the field.
“When you watch Evanston play, they are very, very talented,” Lenhardt said. “You can see how they won a lot of football games this year. We knew no matter who we drew in the first round, they were going to have some talented kids.”
It all starts with a trio of Red Devils in running back Tyus Cornia, fullback Pablo Escalante and tight end/linebacker Riley Griggs.
We are going to have to be prepared to play a physical game,” Lenhardt said. “Cornia, no one has really stopped him yet. He’s had a heck of a season and he’s going to be a big point of emphasis for us much like Bryan (Lemmon) will be a point of emphasis for them.”
Going into the final week of the regular season, Cornia had rushed for 1,236 yards – only 12 fewer than Lemmon.
“Anytime you play someone from the West, they don’t like to get cute,” Lenhardt said. “It’s going to be right at you.”
Defensively, Torrington hasn’t had issues slowing the other team’s down as 3As top rushing defense holding teams to 122.9 yards per game and 194.1 total yards per game.
That will continue to be a point of emphasis heading into the opening round of the playoffs.
“When you get into the playoffs, everyone wants to focus on schemes and what you are running but none of that matters if you don’t block and tackle,” Lenhardt said.