Bears hope to advance to semifinal

Published 11:05 pm Thursday, November 24, 2011

Jonesville — While folks in the Miss-Lou were planning Thanksgiving meals and preparing for holiday festivities this week, the Block High School football team was practicing, and that’s just the way they wanted it when the season started.

“One of our goals at the beginning of the season was to be playing during Thanksgiving weekend,” Block head coach Benny Vault said. “I’m thrilled (where we are). Our kids keep getting better every week.”

The Bears’ success has put them three wins from a LHSAA 1A State Championship, and they will look to continue their run tonight when they host Mangham.

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Vault said many of his players have experienced big playoff games before, and he expects them to be ready for the big stage tonight.

“We have several (players) on this team that have been to the quarterfinals before,” he said. “We talk about it so much. Getting to big games is kind of expected, and they are excited.

“They are getting a lot of attention in the community. A lot of people are hanging around this week for the holiday, and we are playing Mangham who always has a big crowd and a big following. This is something that every kid that plays football looks forward to.”

Vault said despite the big game atmosphere, his team has used this week to prepare like it’s just another game.

“We pretty much have done everything the same,” he said.

Mangham will present a challenge with its ability to run the football, and Vault said trying to figure out a way to stop Mangham’s ground game will be a challenge.

“They have two running backs — a big powerful back and a little scat back — and I can’t watch (the film) at night, because I don’t like horror movies,” he said. “I had to come up and watch it in the day time. They attack the hole real well, and we have our hands full to try to stop them.”

Vault said Mangham will also have trouble stopping the Bears’ running attack, and that could lead to a high-scoring affair.

“I don’t think they will be able to stop us well either,” he said. “They will probably walk up eight in the box like everybody else. I never know what I’m going to get to try to stop our offense.”

Vault said he has also seen improvement in the Bears’ passing game, which will be useful when Mangham stacks the line of scrimmage.

“Last week we were able to pass the ball,” he said. “We’ve been working on that. If we can get our passing down, we’ll be hard to beat.”

Vault said the keys to tonight’s game would be tackling Mangham’s skilled runners and protecting the ball on offense.

Vault said he is excited about the opportunity his team has to showcase what it can do on a big stage and advance to the semi-finals.

“(This game) is big,” he said. “We have a lot of people home for Thanksgiving that keep up with us that will have the opportunity to see us play. And playing a team like Mangham that will travel with about 1,200 to 1,300 people (is great). I don’t know how much of a home-field advantage we have. We don’t have to travel, so hopefully we can come out and advance to the next round.”

Block (8-4) and Mangham (13-0) are set to kick off at 7 p.m. today.