Friday, November 16, 2012

Mixed feelings on bye week for Berlin, Windber

Windber received a first-round bye in the 2011 District 5 Class A playoffs. For the Ramblers, it was a chance to earn a well-deserved rest.

"We gave the kids the whole week off," Windber coach Matt Grohal said. "We lifted two or three times and watched film but we didn't go out on the practice field until we knew we were playing Northern Bedford."

As the second-seed in this year's District 5 postseason, Berlin (9-1) received a first-round bye. The Mountaineers handled things differently than the Ramblers did a year ago.

Of course, Berlin was coming off a loss at Windber to conclude the regular season last week.

"We had four days of practice and we gave the kids Friday off," Berlin coach Doug Paul said. "Most of the team went out to Windber to watch them play Tussey Mountain. This week, it's back to a normal five days of practice."

This week is far from normal, however, as Windber (9-2) travels to Berlin for a District 5 Class A semifinal Saturday night at Snyder of Berlin Sports Complex.

Will the bye week help Berlin? Time will tell, but both coaches have mixed feelings on the bye week.

"Some kids are banged up this time of year and it gives them a little more time to heal," Paul said. "At the same time, when you're heading into the playoffs, you want to keep playing. Two years ago, I didn't like having the bye. It mixed up the routine."

Will not having the bye hurt Windber? The Ramblers bring a four-game win streak into Berlin, but they're also banged up. Devon Tomlinson, a key running back and the team leader with seven interceptions, suffered a broken ankle against Tussey Mountain. Leading rusher Dustin Blough is dealing with injury, as is starting quarterback Dakote Gipe.

Grohal expects Gipe, who is dealing with an elbow injury, to play.

"To be honest, I don't like the bye. At this time of year, you just want to keep playing," Grohal said. "Of course, in hindsight, we would have taken the bye week this year given what happened (against Tussey Mountain)."

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