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Bridgeport won't take Grafton lightly

by Mike Nutter

SPORTS WRITER

BRIDGEPORT -- To the man, the one thing the Bridgeport Indians are confident of is that they won't be overconfident in today's Class AA first round playoff game against Big 10 rival Grafton.

The No. 1 Indians (10-0) are winners of 24 straight games, including two to the Bearcats (6-4) by a combined 76-10, so it's easy to see where Bridgeport might be looking slightly ahead to next week.

"No. No chance of that," Bridgeport quarterback Chris Lindsey said. "We don't even think about that (in the playoffs). We're real focused and when you look past any team, that's when something can up and bite you on the behind."

The Bearcats did just that in the two teams' prior meeting this season. Grafton scored on a 58-yard touchdown pass on its first possession and then parlayed a fumble into a Stuart Strauss field goal to take a 10-0 lead in the first quarter.

The Indians regrouped and scored 48 unanswered points to end the game.

"There were a few things that happened that game. I don't know if we were looking past them that game or not," Lindsey said. "They showed us they've got some guys that can play. They've got a lot of weapons they can use, so we have to come in and show we can play."

Of those weapons, none has been more effective lately than Trampas Efaw. The junior fullback rushed for 1,432 yards on 217 carries this season, including a school record 322 yards against Lincoln. In the Bearcats' final three games, Efaw averaged 215.7 yards rushing in Grafton's belly-option offense.

"I don't think we'll do anything any different (defensively), but you have to be aware of Efaw," said Bridgeport's C.R. Rohrbough. "(Grafton's offense) is a read and react type thing. You have to see how their set up and know what your assignment is on every play.

"You've either got the dive, the quarterback, or the pitch man. You have to say it to yourself before the play starts, or you're going to be confused."

Stopping the run has been one of the Indians' specialties. Bridgeport has given up just 130.1 rushing yards per game.

Like Efaw, the Indians found another viable option in its offense the final three weeks. While Rohrbough (163 carries for 1,256 yards) has been steady all season, senior tailback Brandon Wienke finished the game with consecutive 100-yard games, averaging 107.7 yard in his final three games.

Grafton is giving up just less than 190 yards rushing per game, while Bridgeport averages 285.8 yards rushing.

"The difference between what you do in the regular season and what you do in the postseason is pretty well known on this team," Rohrbough said. "Every game matters, and we want to step it up.

"Every time we step out on the field we have to step it up no matter who we're playing."

Sports writer Mike Nutter can be reached at 626-1444 or by e-mail at sports@exponent-telegram.com

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