A Division IV football coach who saw Seton Catholic and Blue Ridge both in person and on film breaks down Friday night's state championship game at NAU Walkup Skydome in Flagstaff.
Seton Catholic offense vs. Blue Ridge defense
Blue Ridge’s defensive tackles and linebackers are very good with or without Chans Cox and his injury, and (Seton) should look at Show Low and Mingus’ which did a great job of stopping the Blue Ridge run. I don’t think Seton will be able to run against the BR front five. Those tackles, Walker Lee and Jocob Badger, are both very big and physical kids at 6-foot-3, 220 and 230 pounds, and they can both run. That’s going to create problems for Seton. Show Low tried to spread out and let Seton run the ball, but Blue Ridge won’t do that. Seton has to hit quick passes outside and try and block the Blue Ridge secondary, which Seton did against Show Low. (Seton WR) Matt Haggerty is the real deal. Show Low blitzed more and more, and Seton countered every time, and Show Low doesn’t normally blitz and neither will Blue Ridge. I don’t think it’s the chess match this game that it was with Seton catching Show Low in the right spots and calling perfect plays on the outside against Show Low's blitzes. I think Blue Ridge will stay compact and not spread out. Seton will have to have success on the perimeter with those routes and block the secondary of Blue Ridge.
Seton defense vs. Blue Ridge offense
I’m not sure they will be able to stop Blue Ridge's running. At this time of year Blue Ridge's offensive line is at its best and one of the best coaches in Arizona at all levels. They’re incredible this time of year and difficult to stop in the running game. I don’t think Seton can stop the run game. Seton’s impressed with their linebackers (Eric) Probst and (Greg) Labenz, and Show Low tried to run opposite of them. Seton’s linebackers have to play very, very well to stop Nolan Cook. Show Low tried to crash Blue Ridge in the middle with their defensive tackles, and it worked for the first half (in mid-October), but it opens the outside and Skyler Hill is a fast quarterback so it became a two-man game. You can’t allow them to attack the middle of your defense, you must shut that down. You then have to somehow prevent them from running outside and they’ll be patient doing it. No. 1 for Seton is get a lead and No. 2 is try and get Blue Ridge out of its running game, and that’s really rare. Skyler Hill is a capable passer even though he hasn’t done it a lot and Ben Watson is a capable receiver. Cox probably isn’t a factor because of his injury so Cook is the thing to stop. That’s No. 1 and No. 1 again, then force Blue Ridge to pass. Nolan had about 250 yards against Snowflake and most of it was between the tackles. No. 2 for Seton stopping the run is to stop the option because Skyler is fast and an athlete who’ll get around the outside with bootlegs or the option plays, and then you're in trouble.
Blue Ridge offense vs. Seton defense
You run right at them. Show Low had success running at them but fell behind and had to throw. If Blue Ridge gets behind and has to throw the ball that plays into Seton’s hands. Blue Ridge is going to play smash-mouth and come right at Seton. They’ll be very patient, too. Outside of rolling Skyler Hill out and most of the time it’s not even just to throw but another lane to run, you’re going to get a steady diet of Nolan Cook up the gut. Seton has a defensive end who’s pretty physical, the tackles are pretty quick, and the LB are pretty good, but it’s whether they hold up against Blue Ridge lining up and going. Seton has seen similar offenses with Mingus, Show Low and Blue Ridge, so it’s an asset for Seton but also Blue Ridge because Blue Ridge has seen them defend the same type offenses before most of the playoffs.
Blue Ridge defense vs. Seton offense
The front seven guys of Blue Ridge are very physical and I think they’ll protect the middle of the field better than Show Low. You have to push Seton to the perimeter. Show Low left the middle of the field open against Seton and I don’t think Blue Ridge will do that. Haggerty is a very good player and makes plays after the catch, I think Show Low played off the ball too much and he only had to beat one guy. Blue Ridge has faced great players before but I don’t think they’re going to change things up, they’ll stay in their defense until Haggerty proves he can beat them and have to do something special. They won’t align any different than other greats they’ve seen before. They will have a backup plan for show, they did with (former Show Low standout) Josh Weeks and (former Valley Christian standout Jordan Morgan) and other greats like that. If you cheat guys to Haggerty's side, Daniel Garlid on the other side will be on an island and Blue Ridge doesn’t want to do that. Ryan Bresnahan has a quick release and great pocket presence, and David Gesicki comes in who can throw and has mobility. Their system with their weapons and scheme is very dynamic with those two. Any team would be lucky to have either one of those kids. Bresnahan’s release is incredibly quick and catch-and-throw accuracy is very good, and as good as Bresnahan is and get playing time, I think Gesicki is a little tougher to defend because he throws and can run. Those two put a lot of pressure on you. Watson for Blue Ridge is a really good safety who’s come out of nowhere this season, because Blue Ridge's whole front 7 is back from last year’s championship team, so the only question was their secondary, and they’re pretty good.