MICHIGAN CITY — Speed, and lots of it.
If there was one takeaway from Friday's scrimmage between Michigan City and New Prairie, it was the Wolves' ability to run on both sides of the ball, a recurring point of emphasis from coach Phil Mason during the preseason.
"Obviously, you saw how explosive we are, how fast we are," Mason said. "We were flying around the football. (New Prairie knows) what we give them explosively, but I don't think they worry about it since they don't see that any more than what they see from us."
Russ Radtke certainly knew about it beforehand as his Cougars and the Wolves have seen each other several times during the summer.
"I liked the fact Michigan City and New Prairie don't play anymore," Radtke said. "This is like the fifth scrimmage we've had. We had a couple guys burnt in situations where they got caught out there man to man. They have to realize they have to play with their hands more or that's what's going to happen. They have a good platoon defense that can run to the ball, which is something they need to have in the (Duneland Athletic Conference). It's good for us to see, with the South Bend teams we play and Mishawaka."
City didn't need long to show its jets as Michael Bradford and Demetrius Garrett connected on a 30-yard scoring strike on the seventh play of the opening series. Jonathon Flemings ripped off a 48-yard run on the next snap, while Bradford ran 65 to the end zone and Giovani Laurent had a 45-yard completion to Kaydarious Jones. Laurent also had a 33-yard hookup with Garrett and Robinson teamed with Treylen Simmons on a 15-yard TD.
"We made some good plays, some good throws," Mason said. "I liked the play of all three quarterbacks (Bradford, Laurent and T'Lijah Robinson). All three played really well. Kaydarious had some great catches. We ran the ball well. The offensive line play, for the most part, was pretty solid."
Jones added a 10-yard score in the goal-line sequence and had a 35-yard grab from Bradford late in the scrimmage. Flemings, a stocky inside pounder, reached the end zone from the 1, 2, 8 and 15.
Bobby Siford had an interception for New Prairie and nearly missed a second pick. City's offensive success didn't concern Radtke greatly, given the manner in which he used his personnel.
"We never had all our starters out there at one time," he said. "We didn't play any of our big guys on defense. If we put our big front up, we stop a little more of the first downs and second downs and force them to pass. The double teams when you only weigh 180 pounds, you're not going to win against Duneland schools. There was good aggressiveness, people getting after each other. This is what we're here for, to give everybody a chance to play."
Radtke didn't use quarterback Chase Ketterer in the initial portion of the opening series and Ian Skornog's wobbly throw on the Cougars' third snap was taken the other way some 65 yards by City's Marquan Hurt. Ketterer had a 21-yard tote on the final play of the possession.
"They're definitely going to be really solid in their league and throughout the playoffs," Mason said. "They're a big, physical team. The quarterback is just a great player."
NP's scores with its No. 1 backfield came on a short Ketterer keeper and a late 8-yard run by Chris Mays.
"We were just looking to smash and play football," Radtke said. "(Ketterer) does a good job, but we have to have some other people come in and do their responsibilities, too. We can't just count on one individual. A couple guys coming back from baseball. They're still getting their quarters in."
Mason had to dig for anything to be unhappy about, but found it with a few penalties.
"We want to get crisp and clean next week," he said. "Our objective is to execute and be as penalty-free as we can."
City opens at Ames with Griffith and New Prairie takes on county rival La Porte next Friday.