The Columbian coaching staff has given this week a name: Championship Week.
With a win over Ontario tonight, Columbian will clinch the outright Northern Ohio League title for the second-consecutive year. It also will improve its playoff positioning, and host a game next week.
"From last Saturday, we talked about this being a championship week," said Columbian coach Brian Colatruglio. "We have a chance to win that outright NOL title, and when you are part of the Columbian football program, those are the expectations you have, to play for championships. This is our first opportunity to play for one."
The Tornadoes (8-1, 6-0 NOL) get Ontario, a team that played in the North Central Conference for years and is in its first season in the NOL.
As a result, the teams are unfamiliar with each other, with Colatruglio unsure as to whether they have ever played.
The Warriors come into today's contest with a 5-4 record, 3-3 in the league.
"It's always a little different when you play somebody the first time," Colatruglio said. ""A little bit of uncertainty there on both sides, I'm sure, and I think it's exciting. It's somebody different, different uniforms, different guys. It's something that catches our guys' attention because it's the first time we've ever played them, and we want to make a statement."
Of course, what could be a bigger statement than knocking off your new league's top dog in the last week of the season.
That's the position the Warriors are in. Colatruglio said the team has some impact players on offense.
The coach said the tandem of quarterback Tyler Boatwright and receiver Cameron Mack are as formidable as any the Tornadoes have faced this season.
"They're very good at throwing the ball," Colatruglio said. "Their quarterback in Boatwright and receiver Mack, those two are leading the league in passing and receiving. (Mack) is big; he's about 6-3, 215. He's probably the biggest receiver we've seen. They move him all around. It's the best pass-receiving combination we've faced this year.
"Honestly, you watch them and they move the ball on everybody. They've either had a costly turnover or negative play that hampered a lot of their drives," Colatruglio said. "But they're scary. Their offense is scary because they have some very good skill people and they, at times, execute very well."
Colatruglio said he expects the Ontario defense to try to do what few have done this season: Slow Ryan Lynch and the Tornado running game.
"From what I've seen, they really challenge teams to hurt them [by] throwing," he said. "They want to stop the run, so we need to maintain our balance like we have the last few weeks and take whatever it is they give us."
When asked about how closely he's been following the playoff projections, Colatruglio didn't dodge the question.
"Very close," he said with a laugh. "We know. The Huron-Clyde game is one that matters for us in our region, whether we're the 3 or 4 seed. We definitely want to play at home, and as long as we take care of our business, that's gonna happen. Whatever matchups are after that, we'll worry about that on Saturday."
According to the most recent computer ranking released by the OHSAA, Clyde in No. 3 in Region 8, while Columbian is fourth.
Kickoff is 7 p.m. at Frost-Kalnow Stadium.