Rochelle has outscored its first three opponents 154-13. That's an average score of 51-4. Sterling hopes to buck the trend on Friday in Rochelle.
Last season, the Hubs piled up 504 rushing yards in a 47-21 win at Sterling.
"They pushed us around. We can't let them do that this year," said junior defensive lineman Joe Brouilette, who was a linebacker last season. "They have a couple great running backs. They're very physical up front, and they get off the ball quick."
Brouilette is ready to shoulder a lot of responsibility against Rochelle (3-0), the ninth-ranked team in Class 4A, when the teams meet in a Northern Illlinois Big 12 crossover clash. Sterling (2-1) is receiving votes in 5A.
"I'm going to have to fill the gaps and disrupt their plays," Brouilette said. "If I get pushed back, it's going to ruin the whole defense."
Warriors senior Blake Hall has not received a large amount of playing time, but his time has arrived.
"Blake Hall has worked his [butt] off," Sterling coach Jon Schlemmer said. "He's getting a chance. I'm excited to see him play. We'll see if he can do what he's done in practice in the game."
Hall knows it's going to take the entire defensive unit to slow down the Hubs' ground forces.
"We need to get all our pistons running at the same time," Hall said. "We need to come out ready to play with a lot of energy. We need all 11 heads to the ball on every play. Every guy has a responsibility."
Sterling is taking on its third ranked opponent in the opening 4 weeks.
"Not a lot of people get to play against the type of competition we play week in, week out," Schlemmer said. "It's always more fun playing somebody really good. You get to see where you're at."
So far, Rochelle has pummeled Chicago Corliss (58-6) and two of Sterling's Northern Illinois Big 12 West rivals – Dixon (44-0) and LaSalle-Peru (52-7).
"They're going to play smash-mouth football and challenge your manhood," Schlemmer said. "They fire out and stay low, and stay on blocks. We've got to play with great leverage."
When: 7:30 p.m. Friday
Where: Rochelle High School
Twitter: Larry Brennan (@LarryBrennan)
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