If Calvert wants to win a Midland Athletic League title, this game is a must-win.
If Calvert wants to make a second-straight trip to the playoffs, it's likely this game is a must-win.
When Fremont St. Joe comes into Frost-Kalnow Stadium to meet the Senecas Saturday night, it's going to be more than just a rivalry game. The league title race, and the playoff race will be shaped by the outcome.
St. Joe holds a one-game lead over Calvert, Carey and Hopewell-Loudon in the league standings. While nothing will be clinched by a Streak win, holding victories over each of its closest challengers will mean there will be little left separating St. Joe from the an outright crown.
Calvert sits sixth in the Division VI Region 22 playoff rankings, a region topped at the moment by St. Joe. A win will go a long way towards securing a playoff spot for Calvert while a loss could leave the Senecas on the outside looking in.
"If we're going to be where we want to be at the end of the season, this is a do-or-die," Calvert coach Todd Fox said. "We need to get the job done."
All those factors tie in to is already a pretty intense rivalry.
"Anybody around knows that's St. Joe's biggest rivalry," St. Joe coach Scott Knisely said only moments after beating Hopewell-Loudon last Friday. "Rivalry games are very special and when we play Tiffin Calvert, it always seems to be a special game and We're expecting nothing different on Saturday night over there."
"This being my third year, I've come to embrace the rivalries," Fox added. "It seems like there's a lot of them. But the St. Joe one is very special to them, to us. We're excited, and to add on to this rivalry, I believe its our 75th meeting. So add that to all the implications that are on the line."
St. Joe features the league's leading offense and the league's leading passer in Zack Yeckley. Pinpointing Yeckley's favorite target is tough as St. Joe suits up three of the league's top five receivers (Luke Stierwalt, 37 receptions 625 yards; Jordan Sessler, 35 receptions, 501 yards, Alex Veleba 21 receptions, 293 yards)
"They're balanced," Fox said. "They got a lot of guys. Some teams you play against, they got one receiver that you got to focus on. This team, they have it all."
Don't let all the passing numbers fool you. They also have a solid running game to supplement the passing attack.
"What's deceiving is you see all their passing ability, but they got a nice back in (Marcus Kerr), who's the second leading rusher in the league right now," Fox said. "They do a nice job. They got a great offensive line, great receivers, great kill players. They're a good football team."
Calvert counters with a strong multi-facet attack of its own. Quarterback Tyler Long has accounted for 1,477 yards of offense this season (814 passing, 663 rushing).
Fox though said the team has turned its focus to using the rushing game. Last week against North Baltimore, Calvert tallied 429 yards on the ground, including 215 from Dan Kwiat.
"We're not going away from that," Fox said. "We've spent a lot of the first part of this season going to everything, doing everything and testing everything. And the conclusion we came to is our strong point is our run game and our young offensive line has had that line those first few games to develop and now their ready to take over and run the ball. But we got a lot of tools we can use beyond that."
Kickoff is set for 7 p.m.