Ravens have high hopes for of­fense un­der Marty Morn­hin­weg

Cecil Whig - - SPORTS - By SEAN GROGAN By SEAN GROGAN

OWINGS MILLS

sgro­gan@ce­cil­whig.com

With just four weeks left in the reg­u­lar sea­son, ev­ery re­main­ing game is cru­cial for teams vy­ing for a play­off bid.

Elk­ton and Per­ryville en­ter Fri­day night’s show­down with vastly dif­fer­ent records. The Golden Elks (5-1 over­all, 3-0 Susque­hanna) are on track to re­turn to the 2A state tour­na­ment for a con­sec­u­tive year. The Pan­thers (2-4, 2-1) face an up­hill climb, but re­main firmly in the mix for the fi­nal 1A East Re­gion play­off spot.

“A win against Elk­ton would be a huge boost,” Per­ryville coach Chris John­son said. “For­tu­nately, this year in the re­gion, there’s four teams that are 2-4 vy­ing for the fourth spot in the play­offs. What­ever it takes to get in – 6-4, 5-5, 4-6 – what­ever the case may be, the play­offs start this Fri­day for us. If we lose, do we still have a shot at the play­offs? Ab­so­lutely. I think if we win out then we’d be in, but we’ve got to ap­proach ev­ery game as a play­off game and come with play­off in­ten­sity.”

John­son’s team will look to bounce back from a 1914 loss to 1A ri­val Bo­hemia Manor one week ear­lier. Per­ryville had the ball in­side the Ea­gles 10-yard line in the fi­nal minute with a chance to win, but was un­able to com­plete a fourth-down pass at­tempt in the end zone.

“On Mon­day we watched film and the kids un­der­stand that if they just get more con­sis­tent, we can be a good foot­ball team. We’ve just got to play a com­plete foot­ball game and we haven’t don’t that yet,” John­son, whose team took a third-quar­ter lead af­ter trail­ing 13-0 at half­time, said. “I was proud of the way we were able to re­spond in the se­cond half. We dom­i­nated the se­cond half, ex­cept for one drive. It’s un­for­tu­nate we didn’t play that way the whole game. The kids know that, they un­der­stand that they let one get aways from them.”

He added that the Pan­thers’ youth played a role. Per­ryville starts four sopho­mores on its of­fen­sive line.

Elk­ton en­ters on a four-game win streak. The Golden Elks were shut out by Kent Is­land in the se­cond week of the sea­son, but coach Matt Feeney has seen his team clean up a cou­ple of key ar­eas since.

“Our aim has just been to get bet­ter each week. The way we started off the sea­son was a lit­tle rough sgro­gan@ce­cil­whig.com

— It’s been a re­volv­ing door of of­fen­sive co­or­di­na­tors for Joe Flacco and the Bal­ti­more Ravens of­fense.

Head coach John Har­baugh fired Marc Trest­man from the po­si­tion fol­low­ing a 16-10 loss to Wash­ing­ton on Sun­day. Marty Morn­hin­weg, pre­vi­ously the team’s quar­ter­backs coach, was pro­moted. He be­comes Bal­ti­more’s fifth of­fen­sive co­or­di­na­tor in as many years.

Play­ers were sym­pa­thetic for Trest­man Wed­nes­day at the Un­der Ar­mour Per­for­mance Cen­ter, but si­mul­ta­ne­ously ex­pressed ex­cite­ment about his re­place­ment. Morn­hin­weg brings a level of en­thu­si­asm that the calm-de­meanored Trest­man lacked.

“Marc Trest­man is a great guy, a great coach. It was dif­fi­cult to see him go, but I think it was some­thing that this of­fense needed,” tight end Den­nis Pitta said. “We were in kind of a bad place. It didn’t seem like we were get­ting out of it. Hope­fully, this will spark us.”

The move came af­ter the Ravens seem­ingly aban­doned a run­ning game that worked well Sun­day against Wash­ing­ton.

Trest­man was crit­i­cized for call- with the penal­ties and the turnovers, and then we just flat out got em­bar­rassed by Kent Is­land,” he said. “We kind of took it as a point of pride to re­cover and just clean up those things. Each week our penal­ties have gone down, our turnover dif­fer­en­tial has swung in our fa­vor and the boys are start­ing to play with some ex­cite­ment again. It’s been great to watch.”

The records sug­gest Elk­ton to be a heavy fa­vorite, but that’s not how Feeney sees it. His team ex­pects Per­ryville’s best shot.

“I don’t nec­es­sar­ily have to keep them fo­cused. County games are county games. You’re go­ing to get the best that county op­po­nents have to give,” he said. “Ris­ing Sun gave us ev­ery­thing. That game came down to the wire, as it should, and I don’t ex­pect any­thing less out of Per­ryville. They’re a very well-coached team. They know how to win. You watch them on film and they got kids that play hard. They run right at your face, they can throw the ball. No one’s look­ing past any­body at this point in the year.”

Feeney’s pri­mary con­cern is his team get­ting too caught up in the hype of Home­com­ing on Fri­day night. John­son’s big­gest con­cern is Elk­ton’s star run­ning back Raiquon Estep.

“We’ve got to be dis­ci­plined in our re­spon­si­bil­i­ties first. He only needs a sliver to turn what for ing too many pass plays, and not tak­ing enough shots down field. Flacco has one of the strong­est arms in the NFL and the Ravens added a pair of deep threats in Bre­shad Per­ri­man and Mike Wal­lace this year that they lacked last sea­son.

“I hope so. I re­mem­ber coach Marty my first cou­ple years in the league when he was in Philly. I used to see ‘D-Jack’ [DeSean Jack­son] and ‘Mac’ [Jeremy Ma­clin] go­ing up top all the time. Hope­fully, we can get some of that done,” most backs might be a 3-yard gain, he can turn into a touch­down. We have to re­ally main­tain our re­spon­si­bil­i­ties, con­trol our gaps, make sure that ev­ery­body is do­ing their job and we’ve got to make tack­les,” John­son said. “It’s kind of fun when you’re go­ing up against a team of that cal­iber. They’ve been the best team of the county now for two years. They’re re­ally big and strong up front and they get af­ter you. We’re go­ing to have to match that in­ten­sity and just play to the whis­tle. All I’m ask­ing for in the fourth quar­ter is to have a shot to win the game and hope­fully our guys can pull through.” Wal­lace said when asked if he ex­pects more deep shots. “Hope­fully, we get some more shots. We def­i­nitely have the ex­plo­sive play­ers to do it. We just need to be a com­plete of­fense.”

Bal­ti­more will likely run the ball more, while at­tempt­ing more down­field throws. The ad­di­tional run plays should also al­low the Ravens to uti­lize more play-ac­tion as well.

“If it’s go­ing to open up the pass, then def­i­nitely. If not, then we can just pass it all day,” wide re­ceiver Ka­mar Aiken joked about the ben­e­fits of an added rush­ing at­tack. “[Morn­hin­weg is] en­er­getic, and we’re be­hind him … Marty is def­i­nitely bring­ing a dif­fer­ent tempo, he’s up­beat. He says stuff that play­ers want to hear.”

Aiken added that Morn­hin­weg’s of­fense al­lows wide re­ceivers more free­dom in their routes.

There’s rea­sons for op­ti­mism. In his 15 sea­sons as an NFL of­fen­sive co­or­di­na­tor, Morn­hin­weg’s teams have fin­ished in the top 10 for points scored eight times.

Morn­hin­weg was last the of­fen­sive co­or­di­na­tor of the New York Jets (2013-14). He held that po­si­tion with the Philadel­phia Ea­gles (2004-12) and the San Fran­cisco 49ers (1997-2000). Morn­hin­weg spent two sea­sons (2001-02) as

Fol­low the 2016 UCBAC Foot­ball sea­son on Twit­ter: @UCBACFoot­ball head coach of the Detroit Lions.

Com­par­a­tively, the Ravens ranked 23rd in points (18.8) and yards (338.2) yards per game through five games. Flacco has thrown the most passes amongst NFL quar­ter­backs, but Bal­ti­more’s eight touch­downs scored are the third fewest in the league.

Uti­liz­ing the run game should should take some pres­sure off of him.

“Marty is an ex­cit­ing guy. He’s con­fi­dent, and he brings a lot of con­fi­dence to the room,” Flacco said. “We’ll prob­a­bly be a lit­tle more con­fi­dent go­ing for­ward and be shoring things up – do­ing what we do best. [We will] try to stretch the field a lit­tle bit more.”

Flacco said he spoke to Trest­man on Tues­day, in what he de­scribed as a dif­fi­cult con­ver­sa­tion to have.

The Ravens of­fense won’t un­dergo a com­plete re­boot. Morn­hin­weg will use the same con­cepts and plays that ex­isted un­der Trest­man. He may make some mi­nor tweaks to ter­mi­nol­ogy, but his im­pact will be felt most in play call­ing.

“It’s not like we’re chang­ing the whole thing; we’re run­ning the same of­fense. The ter­mi­nol­ogy is the same. I’m sure Marty has changed a cou­ple of terms for his play-call­ing,” Har­baugh said. “Some­times you have some things en­grained in as a coach. It’s in­ter­est­ing, [be­cause] he was re­ally con­cerned about that. He had two or three con­ver­sa­tions with me about it – this term, that term. It’s only five or six things.

“I’m like, ‘Just do it. Just change it. These guys will get it. These guys are young.’ It’s like lit­tle kids. They learn lan­guages quickly, and old peo­ple can’t do it quite as well. Marty can’t learn a new lan­guage, but the guys can. He changed a cou­ple of things, and the guys picked it up like that, and we’re fine.”

The Ravens last re­placed an of­fen­sive co­or­di­na­tor in 2012, when Cam Cameron was fired, iron­i­cally, fol­low­ing a loss to Wash­ing­ton.

“I think we just kind of hit a plateau, of­fen­sively, with Cam Cameron, for what­ever rea­son. It wasn’t nec­es­sar­ily Cam’s fault, but some­times that hap­pens in this busi­ness. Mak­ing the change just kind of sparked what­ever it was that got us go­ing,” Pitta said. “Hope­fully this will do the same thing. Hope­fully we have a sim­i­lar re­sult, and we can go all the way to the Super Bowl. That would be nice.”

Fol­low Sean Grogan on Twit­ter: @Sean_Ce­cilWhig

CE­CIL WHIG FILE PHOTO

Se­cond-ranked Elk­ton hosts Per­ryville in a Susque­hanna Di­vi­sion show­down tonight.

CE­CIL WHIG PHOTO BY SEAN GROGAN

The Bal­ti­more Ravens fired of­fen­sive co­or­di­na­tor Marc Trest­man on Mon­day. He was re­placed by quar­ter­backs coach Marty Morn­hin­weg.

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