Having been a mainstay in Region 6-A for all these years, the Bremen High School football coach had grown accustomed to knock-down, drag-out affairs of the physical nature.
Well, Bremen will get a heavy dose of both tonight at 7:30 when it travels to Manchester for the battle of the Blue Devils.
“It’s going to be a very, very physical ball game. In this region, you get the physical part, as well as the speed. The region that we’ve been a part of in the past was very, very physical — maybe a little more physical — but you’re getting both of them now. You’re getting the physical part and there’s a lot of speed in this region,” Tolleson said.
Tolleson’s Blue Devils (4-3, 3-2 Region 5-AA) are trying to keep themselves in the playoff hunt, and a win over Manchester (4-2, 3-1) would go a long way in that regard.
Manchester suffered its first region setback last week in a 28-21 overtime loss at No. 7 Heard County, marking the first team all season to hold Duranta Dunson — the Braves’ sophomore sensation — to under 100 yards rushing.
Tolleson said Manchester boasts the best defense he’s seen all season.
“They’re very big, they’re very fast. They all where [running] back numbers. All 11 of them. So that tells you a little bit about their athletic ability. They run that 5-3 JAP defense, and they do a good job with it. There’s some things that can cause some problems with that defense, but we have seen it before,” Tolleson said.
Bremen broke out with a strong rushing attack last week in its 55-26 win over Spencer, eating up 538 yards, led by Voltaire Driver (176 yards, 4 TDs), Trent McClure (175 yards) and Cameron Porter (117 yards, 3 TDs).
And as the Blue Devils brace for their longest road trip of the year, they’ll look to start a winning streak after a seven-game start that’s seen them not win or lose two in a row yet.
“We talked about it just a little bit. It’s been that kind of year where you get knocked down, you get back up and you get knocked down and then get back up again. But we can’t concern ourself with the past. What if this happened? What if that happened? Our big deal is this is the next ball game. That’s our focus. Just like everyday at practice, that practice is our main focus. The next day, it’s the main focus. Then when it’s game time, that’s our focus. That’s the only thing we’re in control of,” Tolleson said.
“We can’t worry about what we’ve done in the past, as far as what playoff implications these ball games have. They’re very important games. Each one of them is. But as long as we’ve got one more shot, that’s all we can be concerned with. I think our kids, our seniors, set that tempo. That’s what we’re living off of — the next minute, the next hour, the next day, the next game.”