By Zach Baker
This week is for the seniors.
That's the message Heidelberg coach Mike Hallett has been sending as the Student Princes prepare for their final game of the season.
HU's expectations for a second-consecutive at-large berth in the Division III playoffs took a devastating blow last week, when the Student Princes were blown out by undefeated John Carroll.
The Princes head into today's game with Baldwin Wallace with a 7-2 record, likely playing for pride. But Hallett said the seniors need to go out wirth a win.
"It's huge for them, they have a chance to finish with an 8-2 record this year," Hallett said. "We have high expectations, so... 8-2 four years ago was the crme of the crme. Oh my god, that's the greatest thing ever. Right now, we've been to the playoffs, we missed our opportunity, more than likely -there's still an outside, outside chance, with a lot of help that we may still get a bid -the reality of it is it's still an opportunity to win an eighth game.
"There's still a lot to play for, there's still a lot to be motivated about."
Baldwin Wallace has become one of Heidelberg's bigger rivals. It started when Hallett arrived in 2007 and led the Student Princes - a team a season removed from losing all its games - to a shocking win over then nationally-ranked BW.
The Yellow Jackets and Student Princes have gone back and forth since, usually in close games. Last year, with HU needing a win to make the postseason, the Yellow Jackets came within a field goal of pulling the upset. Quentin Rembert's block of that kick - as time expired - will live on in Heidelberg history.
Rembert, a fifth-year senior and one of the team's stalwart offensive linemen, plays for the final time today.
Baldwin Wallace comes into this contest 5-3. It lost last week, 30-7 to Mount Union. On the whole, the offense doesn't have eye-popping numbers, at least individually. Quarterback Michael Slack threw for 637 yards and five touchdowns, while running back Nolan Sordyl has gone for 532 yards on the ground. Josiah Holt, a long-time thorn in Heidelberg's side, has rushed for 480 yards and has 159 yards receiving.
But the Yellow Jackets are averaging about four touchdowns a game.
Offenses are scoring 17 points against them.
"I think they do a good job of mixing up coverages," Hallett said. "They're pretty aggressive. If they get into three hands down, with a three-man front, there's gonna be a fair amount of blitzing that goes on. So we've got to be on top of getting our protection set the right way."
Since most teams have tried to shut down Heidelberg's Cartel Brooks and make the passing game beat them, Hallett said he expects the Yellow Jackets to do the same.
"Last year, in the first half, they ran the ball very well against us," Hallett said. "We made some adjustments at halftime to get that under control."
Hallett said his players came back strong this week in practice after a tough last two weeks.
"Tuesday was OK, Wednesday was really good," Hallett said of this practices. "They're getting their mojo back."
Kickoff is at 1:30 p.m.