By Shawn Wood
For The Daily Item
HEGINS — It may not be the official homecoming at Tri-Valley on Friday, but it will be a homecoming for Millersburg head coach Brad Hatter.
Hatter graduated from the school in 1995 and was a running back and linebacker on the team.
He was coached by current Bulldogs coach Mike Ulicny.
“The system has changed somewhat,” Hatter said of the difference between his playing days and the current team. “They do run some option and we ran a lot of dive plays back then. The current offense that they run seems to fit their personnel real well.”
Millersburg (2-3 overall, 2-2 Tri-Valley League) comes into Friday’s game following a 42-7 loss to undefeated Pine Grove.
“Looking back at the first half of the season, I was pleased with our effort — especially the effort that we had against Line Mountain — but that was the only game that we put together a full effort from start to finish,” Hatter said. “We’ve been lacking enthusiasm and, going forward at 2-3, if we want to win, we have to have that same effort in each game as we did against Line Mountain.”
The Indians are next-to-last in the league in points allowed with 32.6 per game while Tri-Valley is giving up slightly more than 14 points per game.
“They are a well-coached team and the scheme they use keeps the defense on its toes,” Hatter added. “Tri-Valley always has a good defense. We’re going to have to scrap for every yard we get.”
At 5-0 (4-0 TVL), the Bulldogs are one of three teams in the league (Pine Grove, Williams Valley) that are undefeated this year.
“So far, we’ve been fairly injury free and even with a few minor injuries, we’ve weathered the storm,” Ulicny said. “The kids have a good, positive attitude going into the second half of the season.”
The defensive side of the ball, according to Ulicny, is one area that has seen steady improvement.
“Our pass defense has been getting better and we’re getting to the ball better,” he said.
The Bulldogs are the top-ranked passing defense in the league, allowing 58.6 yards per game.
Ulicny noted the defensive line averages about 225 pounds per player, one of the TVL’s bigger lines.
“We still have to work on no jumping offsides and putting ourselves in a first-and-15 situation,” he said. “We are not a good team in that position and we have to execute better.”