Coyotes get rematch with Tigers to open playoffs

 


Potter-Dix will meet up with Paxton for the second time of the 2014 season on Thursday. This time, however, one team will advance and one will go home.

The Coyotes (5-3) travel for a 6 p.m. MDT contest Thursday to open the first round of the playoffs. The teams met during the regular season, with the Tigers (4-4) winning 55-32 in Potter.

Potter-Dix coach Dale Frerichs said seeing an opponent for the second time helps in a variety of ways.

“It always helps to have a film that shows how a team wants to attack you specifically,” he said. “Sometimes teams have specific game plans for other teams, so that film may not show exactly how they are going to attack you as an opponent. We are also more familiar with what they do, with our short numbers we do not have a scout team that can try and run the other teams plays to give us a look.”

In the previous meeting on Sept. 19, turnovers helped turn the tide in favor of the Tigers. Paxton led 19-0 at halftime.

“We turned the ball over too many times and they had two defensive touchdowns,” Frerichs said. “Those kind of breakdowns will lead to a lopsided score in a hurry. We have got to avoid turnovers and make them work harder for their scores.”

The Coyotes have been balanced offensively in 2014, passing for 1,134 yards and rushing for 1,104 yards. They averaged 8.1 yards per pass completion and 3.9 yards per carry on the ground.

Cameron Purcell leads the aerial attack, completing 63 of 120 passes for 1,104 yards and 17 touchdowns. Coby Hicks is the leading receiver, with 16 catches for 206 yards and four scores. Three others also have double digit receptions. Noah Nelson has caught 15 passes for 232 yards and a touchdown, Cooper Hicks has 14 receptions for 300 yards and five scores, and Kelsey Rozelle has caught 10 passes for 228 yards and four touchdowns.

Looking at the ground game, Rozelle leads the way with 479 yards and four touchdowns on 84 carries. Purcell has also rushed for 239 yards and eight touchdowns, while Jake Johnson has rushed for 216 yards and three touchdowns.

Johnson led the defense with 48 solo tackles and 50 assisted stops. Coby Hicks added 24 solo and 58 assisted tackles, while Noah Nelson had 22 solo and 51 assisted tackles. Nelson also had eight interceptions, while Coby Hicks and Johnson tallied three and a half sacks each.

Frerichs said the Coyotes must possess the ball, finish drives with scores and avoid turnovers and penalties to win on Thursday.

“They have a pretty good defensively line, so we’ll have to block well. Also being balanced can keep their line off balance,” he added.

Paxton is a run-first team. The Tigers have rushed for 2,143 yards on 350 carries, a 6.1 yard per carry average. They have passed for just 540 yards, completing 39-of-99 attempts. Kolton Carlyle leads the ground attack with 1,026 yards and 13 touchdowns, while Cody Blackwell has added 836 yards and 11 scores. The two each average over 100 yards per game.


Frerichs said the keys to a Potter-Dix win Thursday include winning the turnover battle, limiting big plays and converting extra points. Paxton averaged over seven yards per rush in the first game between the two teams. Against Garden County, which is the second seed in the playoffs, Potter-Dix scored the same amount of touchdowns as Eagles, but the visiting team converted three extra points and the Coyotes did not in the six-point loss.

The Coyotes also enter Thursday’s game with momentum, having won five of their last six contests heading into the playoffs. The only defeat in that stretch was a 32-26 loss to unbeaten Garden County.

“You want to have momentum heading into the playoffs,” Frerichs said. “Our team has really come together since the second half of the Hay Springs game, a game that we had to come from behind to win in the last minutes of the game. The scoring drive and following defensive stop in the game were a big turning point in our season.”

 

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