Three Rivers’ homecoming game Friday against Berrien Springs has a lot riding on it for the Wildcats, which are 3-2 overall. With just four games remaining and needing three victories to snag a Division 4 playoff spot, head coach J.J. Wagner has allowed his Three Rivers squad to enjoy the week’s festivities, but he’s been sure to deliver a message of caution.
“Homecoming is always fun for the kids,” he said. “We just have to keep them focused on what is really important, and be ready to go at 7 p.m. on Friday night.”
Berrien Springs and Three Rivers both have 1-1 marks in the West Division, trailing 2-0 Edwardsburg and Dowagiac. Three Rivers defeated Berrien Springs 35-3 last season.
The Wildcats are hoping to regroup after a 40-22 home loss to the Eddies last week. They gave up 308 rushing yards and six touchdowns on the ground to Edwardsburg and threw three interceptions.
Scouting Berrien Springs
The Shamrocks have a stable full of solid backs, including workhorse Bo Taylor, who rushed 23 times for 97 yards and a touchdown against South Haven. Three others rushed at least nine times against the Rams, boosting Berrien Springs rushing total to 281 yards and four TDs. Quarterback Kyle Rago isn’t much of a passing threat, but he’ll take off on the ground when there’s an opening.
“Berrien Springs runs a version of the Wing-T similar to Allegan and Dowagiac,” Three Rivers head coach J.J. Wagner said. “It features a wing and a slot and motion. They also have a trips package out of the shotgun that they feature. Defensively, they run a base 4-4 stack and Cover 3. Defensively, they are big and physical. Their DE’s are Nick Padla (6-foot-7, 280 pounds), who has [verbally committed] to MSU, and Jhonathon Williams (6-6, 235), who just verballed to Missouri.”
When JoeInsider.com caught up with Wagner Wednesday, he said the focus at practice this week was to control what the Wildcats can control.
“This week we have got to eliminate our mistakes and be more consistent on both sides of the ball,” he said. “Our goal at this point is to make the playoffs. To do that we have to win three of our next four games, so in reality our playoffs start now.”