ADAMS TWP — Coaches are always anxious to see how their team responds to adversity.
That's the position Mars football coach Scott Heinauer is in this week after watching his team fall for the first time this season in a 21-0 loss to Knoch last Friday.
In defeat, the Planets (6-1, 5-1) were held to a season-low 145 yards of offense, including just 106 rushing yards on 39 carries — a paltry 2.7-yard average.
“We have to regroup,” Heinauer said. “From an offensive standpoint, we have to move the football. We didn't do that last week. We did not block the correct people.”
Mars will now embark on its longest road trip of the season, a 7 p.m. kickoff at Hollidaysburg on Friday.
The Golden Tigers (3-4, 3-3) are fighting for a WPIAL Class AAA playoff berth despite being shut out three times this season — by Thomas Jefferson (55-0), Knoch (35-0) and last week by Franklin Regional (35-0).
Hollidaysburg currently has sole possession of the fifth and final guaranteed postseason berth out of the Greater Allegheny Conference, but both Highlands and Indiana have a chance to grab it within the next two weeks if the Tigers stumble.
The team is capable of putting up points, scoring 33, 24 and 49 this season in wins over Highlands, Greensburg Salem and Derry, respectively.
Reid Miller can rack up big gains from his running back spot, but the Golden Tigers like to get a lot of skill players involved.
Brian Urban is a dual threat at quarterback, throwing for 136 yards, rushing for 125 and accounting for four total touchdowns in that earlier victory over Derry.
“They run a no-huddle attack and like to spread you out,” said Heinauer.
Hollidaysburg's lopsided loss last week was a bit misleading for the team's defense as the Tigers trailed just 14-0 at halftime and forced Franklin Regional into four punts in the first 24 minutes.
The Tigers are also forcing nearly three turnovers per game.
As for Mars' defense, Heinauer believes it came up with some big stops last week in defeat.
“Defensively, we really only gave up 13 points last week,” he said. “The last touchdown Knoch scored came after we gave the ball up on downs deep in our own territory with about eight minutes left in the game. I can't really count that against the defense. (Knoch running back) Ben Tackett did a great job (194 yards and three touchdowns) and they didn't have to throw the ball much.”
Friday's game will be the first meeting between the two schools since the Planets demolished the Tigers 52-20 in a WPIAL first-round playoff in 2010.
Mars will close the regular season at Hampton Oct. 26.
“Fortunately for us, if we win our last two section games, we will be section champions,” Heinauer said.