Soon the bleachers at St. Joseph’s Dickinson Stadium will begin to fill up for tonight’s Division 3 pre-district playoff game between the seventh-ranked Bears (8-1) and Sturgis (5-4). Here are a few notes leading up to kickoff:
• Running back Jack Turak is St. Joseph’s main threat on offense after rushing for 944 yards and 12 touchdowns this season. Quarterback A.J. Montoya has thrown for 837 yards and rushed for 348.
“They are a smash-mouth football team that just runs down the field,” Trojans coach Jimmy Lamb said Thursday night. “They throw the ball when they need to. They keep teams honest and they execute.
“I believe they are better than Portage Central. They are clock hogs. They’re smart about what they do and really can execute their plays both on the offensive and defensive side. They’re well coached.
• According to a Herald Palladium report, the Bears will be without Justin Gambrell due to injury. He rushed for nearly 400 yards and was a defensive anchor at strong safety.
“We talked about not turning the ball over and make sure we value our possessions,” Lamb said.
Gambrell not out their ball-hawking will obviously help the Trojans, which aren’t trying to hide the fact they plan to sling it often.
• After the Sturgis soccer team was bounced by Spring Lake in Wednesday’s Division 2 semifinal match, senior Enrique Lopez hitched up to the football squad again to takeover field goal duties. He connected on kicks from 40 and 50 yards at Thursday’s practice. Freshman Rodrigo Garcia was called up to replace Quarterback Chance Stewart on kickoffs.
“We’ve got to score points when we’re in their territory or in the red zone,” Lamb said. “We can’t come up empty. I feel good about where we are with [Lopez]. He’s excited.”
• Sturgis lost Matt Davis to a concussion in last week’s loss to Battle Creek Lakeview, which means the offensive line will be tweaked once again. Lamb thinks as many as 11 players have lined up along the front. Tonight’s starting group is expected to be Luke Kinsey, Jake Stevens, Cole D’Haese, Taylor Mayo and Juan Espinoza.