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HSFB: Polo looking to get back on track against East Dubuque

Polo's Richie Bartnick avoids a defender during practice Tuesday afternoon.
Polo's Richie Bartnick avoids a defender during practice Tuesday afternoon.

The Polo football team is seeing double.

The Marcos will face the same slate of teams in the same order as a season ago, with the only difference being the game sites.

That means East Dubuque looms tonight, a team that finished 7-3 last year in a season that began with a 33-6 win over the Marcos. But lining up against the Warriors for the second-straight season opener has Polo thinking about taking advantage of a good opportunity to start off the season right.

"It's always good to start off the season against a good team," Polo quarterback Brody Grobe said. "We know we have to play against the best if we want to accomplish anything this season."

Polo coach Andrew Hofer is in his fourth year as head coach, and has been slowly working the program back into a team that, for years, finished with more wins than losses.

The Marcos were a 4-5 team last season, which was the highest win total since 2010.

The team has improved in each of Hofer's first 3 seasons. In 2011, Polo finished 1-8, while the next season, in 2012, it won three games.

The development of Grobe, a junior, should help ease that transition into a winning program, and it also should also be helpful tonight against the Warriors.

"Brody has improved a lot," Hofer said. "He looks much more comfortable."

Grobe will take his first snaps as a returning starting quarterback when the offense gets on the field. He said he feels much more comfortable under center, and has a better command of the offense than his first opportunity last season.

While Grobe and Hofer both see East Dubuque as a good early-season test, they are hesitant to take away too much from previous meetings, including the one as recent as last season. Polo holds a 6-6 record against East Dubuque in the last 12 meetings, but have lost the past four contests.

"A year is a long time," the fourth-year head coach said. "You can use some [information] from last year's game like formations, but there have been so many personnel changes with guys coming and going on both teams, you just never know."

But what the Marcos did take away from game film, and from what they saw in last season's opener, was what type of team they will line up against.

The Warriors run a 3-5 base defense – three linemen with five linebackers up front. Grobe and the Marcos have been working on protection schemes to better recognize where the pressure is coming from on any given play.

Grobe talked Thursday about being able to recognize different aspects of the defense faster, and feels better about leading the offense, which will likely be tested from the first snap.

On the offensive side, the Warriors employ a power running game and run the football often behind a physical offensive line.

Because of this, clock management skills will likely arise, and Grobe feels he is up to the challenge with more confidence this season, and will try to lead long drives to keep the Marcos' defense off the field.

He will have running back Brad Cavanaugh, an elusive runner, to rely on while Grobe himself can wiggle out of pressure.

"We're going to be calm and settled down," Grobe said. "If we have to, we will just wait our turn and do what we do. We're just going to play our game."

Where: Polo HS

When: 7:30 p.m. tonight

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