Coaches: Mohawk, Erik Baker; Carey, Todd Worst.
Records: Mohawk 8-1 (6-0 MAL); Carey 6-3 (5-1 MAL).
Last week: Mohawk rallied in the fourth quarter for a 25-14 win over previously unbeaten St. Joe, clinching a share of the Midland Athletic League. Carey kept its chance for a title share with its fifth-straight win, 21-9 at Seneca East.
Outlook: Mohawk already has its first league title in seven years, but the Warriors certainly don't want to share with their neighboring rivals. Mohawk also isn't assured of a playoff spot if it loses, though Baker likes his team's businesslike approach.
"They came off the field Friday night, and the only thing they wanted to talk about was Carey; these guys get it," he said.
Baker's team, which has allowed just 73 points this season, will face a Carey team that's rolling on offense (338.7 rush yards per game), even with Dillon Sammons taking over at quarterback for injured Bryce Orians.
"People say you want to play Carey early; you don't want to play Carey at the end of the year," Baker said. "Once they get their rhythm going and get all their pistons firing, they're a bear, hope to contain them a little bit."
Playing at Carey is a challenging task regardless of any postseason or league title implications, Baker said.
"You're not just playing team, you're playing their relatives, the guys who have the little party behind the fence," he said. "You play the whole town and everybody who's ever lived in that town. It's quite an experience."
Carey has Tyler Cusac (774 yards) and Austin Tschanen (691) leading the ground game, while Dustin Massie has averaged 14 yards on his 23 carries and scored 10 touchdowns.
Mohawk has the league's leading rusher and scorer in Caleb Coil (1,025 yards, 15 touchdowns). He and his line face a defense that's tops in the league against the run.
"They had a lot of kids come back from last year, and they learned a lot," Worst said of Mohawk. "It's gonna come down to who's more physical and who can sustain it. Turnovers will be big. We have to make the most of (possessions) and not give them any short fields."
St. Joe at
Coaches: St. Joe, Scott Knisely; SE, Ed Phillips.
Records: St. Joe 8-1 (5-1 MAL); SE 5-4 (3-3 MAL).
Last week: St. Joe couldn't hold a 14-12 lead going into the fourth quarter at Mohawk and suffered its first loss, 25-18. Seneca East managed just 101 yards of offense in a 21-9 loss to Carey.
Outlook: If Carey should beat Mohawk, St. Joe certainly wants to get in on the MAL title share, while Seneca East wants to leave the Streaks with no chance (and possibly knock them out of the playoff hunt). At the same time, an SE win would avoid a fourth-straight 5-5 record for the program.
"We've talked about that, if your can't win the title it's nice to have a say in who wins it," Phillips said. "I do know this: We're a much-improved football team this year. We've played well in big games but fallen on wrong side of edge.
"At some point you get over that edge, and we're looking at Friday night as an opportunity to do that."
Even though it struggled in the second half at Mohawk, St. Joe still has the league's second-best offense (350.2 yards per game). Zak Bowman is the second-leading rusher (935 yards, 15 TDs), and Matt Mehalko the second-leading passer (1,234 yards, 14 TDs).
Seneca East freshman Ethan Caudill became the starting quarterback early in the season, but original starter and senior Ethan Branham played some during last week's game.
Coaches: NB, Chip Hollenbeck; H-L, Jeremy Nutter.
Records: NB 3-6 (1-5 MAL); H-L 5-4 (2-4 MAL).
Last week: North Baltimore got its first league win in four years, 18-7 over Lakota. Hopewell-Loudon dropped a 21-20 heartbreaker at Calvert after trailing 21-7 at halftime.
Outlook: Hopewell-Loudon mathematically has a shot at the playoffs, but more realistically the Chieftains will be concerned about simply finishing on a high note at home.
"We talked about having our seniors for just a few days and making sure their probable last game is one they can remember," Nutter said. "We need to take care of football a little better and make sure we come out and play all four quarters as hard as did second half last week."
Matching the North Baltimore's physical play early will be key, as the Chieftains hope to get their league-leading passing game going and force the Tigers to play catch-up. North Baltimore has four rushers with at least 210 yards this season.
"They're a physical football team, and we've had a little trouble with that this year," Nutter said.
Coaches: Norwalk, Chris MacFarland; Upper Sandusky, Jake Moyer.
Records: Norwalk 2-7 (1-5 NOL); Upper Sandusky 1-8 (1-5 NOL).
Last week: Norwalk dropped a 34-15 decision to Bellevue. Upper Sandusky fell at Columbian, 48-7, after trailing 20-7 at halftime and running 41 plays to the Tornadoes' 14.
Outlook: Moyer said his team's biggest improvement this season has been the offensive balance, something he hopes can lift Upper Sandusky to a win in its final Northern Ohio League game before the Rams exit for the North Central Conference.
"Obviously we wanted to establish the run first, but as the season progressed the passing game, especially the short game, really got in sync," Moyer said. "It showed last five or six weeks.
"Alex Frey has become a really good receiver and goes after the ball, and Cale Sandridge has been making good decisions for us."
Moyer praised Norwalk's skill players, noting the two-quarterback system the Truckers employ with Jake Fetherolf as the passer (1,212 yards) and Dustin Crabtree primarily as a rusher (team-high 784 yards). Trevor Ishee is one of the league's top receivers with 42 catches for 473 yards.
"They can have good offensive and defensive lines," Moyer said. "They have some weaknesses there, and they've hung in there, a lot like us."
at Colonel Crawford
Coaches: BC, Jason Ratliff; Colonel Crawford, Ryan Teglovich.
Records: BC 8-1 (5-1 NCC); Colonel Crawford 5-4 (3-3 NCC).
Last week: Buckeye Central bounced back from its only loss to trounce Riverdale, 48-3. Colonel Crawford got nipped by Ontario, 33-32.
Outlook: Buckeye Central likely would qualify for the Division VI playoffs even with a loss, but the Bucks certainly want to enter the postseason on a high note. That won't be easy against a Colonel Crawford team that nearly beat Ontario and had a two-touchdown lead on Wynford before losing in the final minute. However, Ratliff shouldn't have to worry about his team looking ahead to Week 11
"Our kids have done good job being focused all year," he said. "They've done a good job not getting too high after wins, and they come ready to work hard and prepare each week."
Brandon Robinson has rushed for 1,195 yards and 17 touchdowns, Ashby Welsh adds 367 yards rushing, and freshman Nate Klingenberger has thrown for 694 yards.
"They have a lot of speed in the backfield," Ratliff said. "They have good offensive and defensive lines, and the quarterback's getting better every week."
-- Mike Genet