By Bruce Campbell
Garber head football coach Mark Harmon says teams in District B-1 have to have “a short memory.’’
Harmon will be counting on that when his 5-1 Wolverines visit No. 1-ranked and undefeated Laverne (6-0) in a B-1 showdown Friday.
Garber, which outscored opponents 260-76 in winning its first five games, was embarrassed by No. 2 Pond Creek-Hunter 42-16 last week at home.
“We were disappointed not so much that we got beat, but that we didn’t play up to our potential,’’ Harmon said. “We just have to go back and work harder and get ready to go again.’’
The Wolverines allowed 322 yards rushing and another 89 yards in the air. Panthers senior running back Brady Krittenbrink scored six touchdowns — five on runs of 2, 8, 7, 1 and 10 yards and another on a 13-yard pass from Josh Irvin.
“We had no stops,’’ Harmon said. “They just whipped us.’’
Laverne has outscored opponents, 325-64 and has not been held under 46 points this season. Only one game — a 52-26 win over Covington-Douglas — went the distance.
“Laverne compares real well with Pond Creek-Hunter,’’ Harmon said. “They don’t have Krittenbrink, but they have a bunch of pretty dang good players.’’
Laverne showed that a year ago when the Tigers tamed the Wolverines, 52-6. Quarterback Tucker Rolf threw for 182 yards and six touchdowns.
The Tigers haven’t had to throw the ball that much this season because of a running attack that has gone over 200 yards each game. Tailback Trevor Harris and fullback Dalton Birch have been an effective 1-2 punch.
“We have to take a business approach,’’ Harmon said. “We have to slow them down and not have the big breakdowns like we did last week. We’ve got to put points on the board.’’
Garber had a season-high three turnovers last week. Quarterback Jordan Avants struggled against Pond Creek-Hunter after having an almost unstoppable first half. He has thrown for 1,027 yards and 19 touchdowns and has ran for another 1,027 yards.
“I think one a year is too many,’’ Harmon said about the turnovers. “I know Jordan was disappointed in how he played. He knows he has to work harder to get back in form.’’
However, Harmon thinks his team will show its character and bounce back.
“We know these guys are tough,’’ Harmon said, “but I think we will play well and give an A game.’’
Laverne coach Tim Allen agrees.
“Garber can beat anybody on a given day,’’ he said. “I think they will respond in a positive way.’’
Avants reminds Allen of Covington-Douglas quarterback Quenten Thayer, who threw for two scores in a 52-26 loss to the Tigers on Sept. 14.
The Tigers have allowed only three touchdowns the past three weeks, two of which came on kickoff returns, and another on a 70-yard touchdown pass.
“They are both very athletic,’’ Allen said. “They throw the ball well and they run well in space. They are hard to tackle. Covington-Douglas gave us a heck of a game.’’
Allen said the key to the game will be limiting turnovers and playing good defense. Laverne’s first-team offense has not lost a fumble this season.
“Don’t jinx us,’’ Allen said with a smile. “We haven’t had any negligent turnovers this year. Part of it is our attitude. We have been focused throughout the game. We know in this district, if you don’t have that attitude, somebody will get you.’’
Harmon said the Wolverines have to reverse the script from the Pond Creek-Hunter game.
“We’ve got to stop their offense and move the football,’’ Harmon said. “We have to make it a game longer than we did last week.’’
A win would put the Tigers (5-0 in district) in the driver’s seat for a home playoff berth and set up a Week 10 meeting with Pond Creek-Hunter for a possible district title. Laverne would have games with Merritt and Seiling remaining.
Laverne is the second game of a brutal stretch for the Wolverines, who still have Covington-Douglas and Ringwood remaining.
“The schedule just worked out that way,’’ Harmon said. “If we want a home playoff berth, it would make sense we need to win this one. But it (a win) doesn’t guarantee you one.’’
It’s a rematch of the 2008 state championship game, won by Garber, 30-26.
The last four games have been routs with Garber winning 48-14 in 2009 and 62-12 in the playoffs. Laverne won 40-14 in 2010 and 52-6 last season.
GARBER AT LAVERNE
Kickoff: 7:30 p.m. Friday
Records: Garber 5-1 overall, 5-0, district. Laverne, 6-0 and 5-0.
Series: Tied 4-4
Last: Laverne won 52-6, 2011.