Tolton's hopes remain high for Homecoming game

2 weeks 22 minutes 26 seconds ago Friday, October 04 2019 Oct 4, 2019 Friday, October 04, 2019 1:53:00 PM CDT October 04, 2019 in Friday Night Fever
By: Emma Moloney, Columbia Missourian

COLUMBIA - The 0-5 Tolton Trailblazers have a lot to accomplish in preparation for Friday’s Homecoming game against Helias, and it was clear that the fresh coat of bright blue paint on the “TC” was not the only work being done on the field this week.

Following last week’s 70-14 loss to Cardinal Ritter, head coach Michael Egnew knew changes were necessary to avoid a repeat performance.

“When you have a team with that much talent, you’ve got to be really perfect with all of the little details. You can’t be out of step or out of gap, or it’ll be exploited,” Egnew said. “I think it’s the same deal here with Helias.”

The focus of practice the past few days has been on tightening coverage and filling in gaps on both sides of the ball, said Egnew, so that Tolton’s weaknesses are not exploited and no detail goes overlooked.

Unlike the Trailblazers, Helias will rotate fresh players on offense and defense, so Egnew’s goal is to limit the Crusaders’ use of their resources and utilize any advantages Tolton can find.

One of the advantages for the Tolton players is their familiarity with Helias’ scheme.

“We match up well against them schematically,” Egnew said. “They run a ‘four down front,’ and we’ve played against a lot of ‘four down fronts’ already this season, so the guys are ready to understand and attack that.”

The “four down front,” also known as a 4-3, is a defensive formation consisting of four linemen and three linebackers. The Trailblazers have experienced this approach before and are confident in their offense’s ability to counter.

Each day of practice consists of an offensive and defensive portion, where players split into groups and work individually on skills before coming together to run plays.

After last week, Egnew had the Trailblazers working on running routes, blocking and throwing the ball more accurately on offense, while improving coverage, hand placement and sticking to the gaps on defense.

With only one practice left before their matchup against the Crusaders, Egnew has seen some positive developments in the Trailblazers’ performance.

“I really think that we’re running the ball pretty well for what we have,” Egnew said. “Our guys do a good job of pursuing the ball on defense, which makes us competitive against some of these teams that we play against.”

However, there are still multiple areas to be strengthened, said Egnew.

Offensively, Tolton will need to improve its protection of quarterback Gabe Pfenenger and allow him more time in the pocket, while defensively the Trailblazers will need to do a better job of defending the pass and adjusting to opposing run plays.

With a limited roster and the changes from last week in mind, Egnew is still in the process of formulating his starting lineup. While the final placements may not come until game day, Egnew said, he feels confident that every one of his players, on the field or not, will give their all come Friday night.

“I feel good because the players are in it,” Egnew said. “They’re 100% on board, they’re fighting hard every day and they’re encouraging each other. They understand that we have to be ‘giant killers’ every week, and they accept that challenge.”

Tolton’s Homecoming will take place at 7 p.m. Friday against the Helias Crusaders.

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