BELTON — With a first-round victory under its belt, Mary Hardin-Baylor will soon turn its focus to the second round of the NCAA Division III playoffs.
First, however, the Crusaders have some housekeeping to do.
“Something we do with (head coach Pete Fredenburg) that we didn’t do other places I was at is that this game will be put to rest tomorrow,” UMHB defensive coordinator Larry Harmon said Saturday after the Crusaders’ 35-7 win over Redlands (Calif.). “We’ll spend all day with this game. We’ll make our corrections and teach our kids what they did wrong and what they did well.
“If you get to looking forward too quickly, you won’t finish fixing the problems you had the game before. That’s what Coach Fred does great. We’re going to make sure that whatever was wrong, we’re going to teach it and get it fixed.”
Unlike the first-round game, which was a rematch of the season opener, next week’s matchup will pit No. 2 UMHB (11-0) against No. 24 Rowan (9-2) out of New Jersey for the first time in the history of the schools’ programs.
The opportunity to face a new opponent will be refreshing for the Crusaders.
“I think at times there can be some, ‘We played these guys before. We know what they’re going to do,’” UMHB offensive coordinator Jeff Shinn said. “Well, we have to prepare at a fever pitch to play at a fever pitch. Preparing for someone we haven’t seen yet will help us do that I think.”
Harmon, whose unit features the American Southwest Conference Defensive Player of the Year in senior tackle Silvio Diaz, concurred.
“I feel better defensively going against people who haven’t played us,” he said. “It’s because you can see it on film, but you really don’t know until you get Silvio in your face.”
Rowan notches shutout
Rowan moved on by whitewashing Endicott (Mass.) 24-0. The Profs surrendered only 113 yards and forced three turnovers.
Come Monday, the Crusaders will begin looking for a way to fare better against the squad from The Garden State.
“I think our players are pretty locked in,” Harmon said. “Getting ready for the next opponent hasn’t been a concern of ours this year. They’ll be ready. It’s just a matter of how well we as coaches can have them prepared. So we’ll go to work Monday morning and keep working our game plan until we get it right.”
Added Shinn: “We keep adjusting the game plan all week. You coach them all the way until kickoff, and then let them go play.”
Around the bracket
In terms of rankings, there were only two upsets in the first round as No. 14 Wesley (Del.) ousted No. 8 Johns Hopkins (Md.) and unranked St. John Fisher (N.Y.) knocked off No. 11 John Carroll (Ohio).
Only 16 teams remain in the hunt for the national championship. The other two teams left in UMHB’s quarter of the bracket are the aforementioned St. John Fisher and No. 7 Hobart (N.Y.).