Prep Football, Week 10: It don’t come easy
Records: Mohawk 4-5, 3-2 MAL; St. Joe 6-3, 3-2 MAL.
Coaches: Mohawk Erik Baker; St. Joe T.J. Buckley.
Last week: Mohawk was downed by Calvert 27-6; St. Joe hammered North Baltimore 44-8.
Last season: St. Joe beat Mohawk 33-8.
Outlook: Baker said his team had a choice after beginning the season with four consecutive losses: Accept the season was going to be a struggle or work to turn it around.
The Warriors chose the latter, and now sit in a position to perhaps make the playoffs.
Beat St. Joe Friday, and the Warriors likely will have a Week 11.
“Our young men have earned the opportunity to play in a meaningful week 10 football game vs a great opponent, what more can you ask of a team?” Baker said. “It would have been easy to accept a lesser fate after Week 4, but our team never quit and kept working to improve. Our best football is still ahead of us, and I hope we have an opportunity for this team to experience November football.”
Standing in the way of a postseason appearance are the Streaks, a squad already assured of playing next week. Baker said St. Joe is a tough offense.
“SJCC has great linemen,” he said. “They have morphed from a 5-wide offense of the last few years to a power offense to take advantage of their abilities.”
Leading the charge is Marcus Kerr, who is third in the Midland Athletic League in rushing with 1, 135 yards.
“Marcus Kerr does all the things you ask of a premier running back,” Baker said. “He blocks, runs with power and is elusive in the open field.”
Of course, Mohawk has a pretty good back as well in Gunnar Johnson, who leads the league with 1,448 yards and an average of more than seven yards a rush.
Baker said Johnson and the Mohawk offense will get a major test from St. Joe.
“Defensively they have been very solid the past few weeks,” Baker said of St. Joe. “we expect to see a great effort this week as well.”
Records: Upper Sandusky 7-2, 4-2 North Central Conference; Galion 8-1, 5-1 NCC
Coaches: Jake Moyer, Upper Sandusky; Chris Hawkins, Galion.
Last week: Upper Sandusky lost to Colonel Crawford, 28-27; Galion blasted Bucyrus, 42-0.
Last year: Galion blanked Upper Sandusky, 28-0.
Outlook: It feels very familiar to Moyer.
This time last year found Upper Sandusky and its staff scoreboard watching and doing all the complicated math that comes into figuring out playoff positions.
In the end, Upper Sandusky won its game against Riverdale and then had all the things it needed to fall its way happen, giving the Rams its first playoff berth since 2004.
This year the math may be a little easier but the opponent certainly is not.
If Upper Sandusky wins and picks up a couple other wins from teams its beat, it’ll be in.
But the former is a pretty tall task.
Galion comes in with just as much at stake. If the Tigers win, they clinch a share of the final campaign of the NCC and more importantly, cinch a playoff berth.
“How much better can it be? It takes on the proportions of the Ohio State-Michigan game. I’m not trying to play it up that big but on our level it does,” Moyer said. “In our little world, it takes on that proportion and that’s how we have to approach it. Both teams are vying for a playoff berth. Everybody wants to win.”
One can’t talk about the Tigers without talking about Dareian Watkins, the team’s all-world quarterback who has verbally committed to Northwestern.
The senior has thrown for 1,279 yards and 17 touchdowns against just two interceptions. But he also hurts teams with his legs as he has rushed for a league-leading 1,175 and 16 touchdowns.
While he doesn’t make a lot mistakes throwing the ball, he leads the league in another category: lost fumbles, with six.
“He’s very difficult to prepare for because you can’t simulate his speed in practice. He’s a good size young man, very strong. He’s going to Northwestern, so he’s a pretty intelligent young man,” Moyer said. “He’s a tough runner, much like (Rams’ quarterback) Tylor Pritchard. We’re going to have gang tackle and come with proper pursuit and pursuit angles.”
Moyer is hoping to get an assist from Mother Nature.
“Everyone focuses on his running, so you take some chances on the defense,” Moyer said. “The weather is supposed to be quite windy so that will limit him some on the throw and maybe can focus on some running.”
The Rams return a full offensive team as well as Will Adelsperger comes back to the backfield after missing a few games with a hamstring injury. He plays in limited stretches on defense last week but Moyer said he’ll be back on both sides of the ball Friday night.
“It’s going to take the pressure off of using some kids with lesser experience. All of the cylinders in our revolver are filled,” Moyer said. “We’re going to try to come out with all the guns blazing and see what happens.”
In Upper Sandusky’s two losses this year, the Rams are minus five in the turnover ratio (8-3). Moyer said playing smart and turnover free will be critical if Upper Sandusky wants to play in Week 11.?”Eliminate the turnovers, limit the penalties and we stay in the ballgame,” he said.
Records: Seneca East 5-4, 3-3 MAL;Carey 6-3, 5-1 MAL.
Coaches: Ed Phillips, Seneca East; Todd Worst, Carey.
Last week: Seneca East beat Lakota 54-12; Carey beat Hopewell-Loudon 54-47.
Last year: Carey beat Seneca East 35-0.
Outlook: This game has big ramifications for Carey. Still alive in the Division VI playoff race (but barely), the Blue Devils need to win and have help.
Carey has a much better chance at a piece of the final MAL crown. Win and it has a share, win and Hopewell-Loudon beats Calvert, and the Blue Devils take the championship outright.
But for any of that to become a reality, Worst said Carey must play better.
“We need to play better defense than we did last week and hang on to the ball,” Worst said. “This should be a good game of keep away.”
Phillips knows how important it is to have the ball in his players’ hands as well.
“This is a Carey team that does what they like to do, they run the ball well with the triple option,” he said, “They like to keep the ball and control the clock.” With each side approaching the game with this mentality, these coaches know the importance of every possession and getting out in front early.
Worst said Carey can’t afford another first half like last week, when its defense struggled against the Chieftains.
“Our first half last week was kind of scary to watch as a coach, but we were able to put in together in the second half and come out on top,” he said.
Each team has had its ups and downs this season, and with similar game plans its all about who will execute better.
“We need to play well up front on both sides of the ball,” Phillips said. “We need to create turnovers, get more possessions; we need to score on them, they like to put up points but so do we, our defense needs to play well, they could make all the difference.”
Worst said it will be a tough game.
“Seneca East is a pretty dynamic team, when they put it all together they play well,” Worst said. “we’ve had a couple off games here and there, but our boys can also play very well. We will see which on of our teams shows up to play, and which one of their teams shows up, overall this should be a pretty interesting game to watch.”
Records: North Baltimore 2-7, 0-6 MAL; Lakota 3-6, 0-6 MAL.
Coaches: Greg Bishop, North Baltimore; Dave Vodika, Lakota.
Last week: Fremont St. Joe beat North Baltimore 44-8; Seneca East beat Lakota 54-12.
Last year: North Baltimore won 28-12.
Outlook: Someone will finally get a league win and someone will close out the final game of the final season of the MAL without one.
Any MAL win is a rare for Lakota. The Raiders have just one since joining the MAL in 2009, a 48-34 victory over these same Tigers in Week 8 four years ago.
But this year’s Raiders are more focused on atoning for last year’s result than the overall showing in the league.
“We were very disappointed last year that we played so poorly and gave up so many penalties. That was only mentioned [in preparation]. We do not want to play so poorly again,” Vodika said. “We’re focusing on this is our last opportunity for a win and finishing the year on a good note.
“We’re just real anxious to play and play well,” he said. “Certainly don’t want to end on the note we ended on last year.”
The teams closely mirror each other.
North Baltimore is seventh against the pass (161.6), but last in the MAL against the run (271.8) and overall (433.3).
The Raiders are last against the pass (163.8) and sixth overall (346.1), but fourth against the run (182.3).
The visiting Tigers hold an edge on offense, entering third through the air (184) and overall (389.9), and fifth in rushing (205.9). Lakota is is last in the league running the ball (89.9) and overall (261.7), but fourth throwing the ball (171.8).
North Baltimore’s offense will be led by Lane Bishop, who has passed for 1,622 yards and 13 touchdowns while running for 970 yards and seven scores.
Running back Taylor Bishop (146-685) and receivers Sean Watson (38-383, 3 TDs) and Levi Newcomer (24-256, 2 TDs) add depth.
“They’re a good team. Statistically, they’ve got some good players,” Vodika said.
The Raiders will counter with the arm of Colin Timmons, who has thrown for 1,404 yards and 10 touchdowns. Jack Raymond has caught 40 passes for 652 yards and four touchdowns, with Dakota Bowling reeling in 36 passes for 461 yards and four TDs. Josh Kirkpatrick (11-165, 3 TDs) has also figured in the passing game.
While the Raiders want to improve for the final game, Vodika said they don’t plan to trot out any extreme changes.
“We don’t have any plans for big changes, we just want to go out and do what we’ve been doing for 12 weeks now and do it well,” he said.
“We’ve got nine really good senior kids and we want them to play well and play hard and lead the team,” he said. “Hopefully we come out and play well and get a win.”
Records: Lake 7-2, 4-2 NBC; Fostoria 0-9, 0-6 NBC.
Coaches: Mark Emans, Lake; Jim Kelly, Fostoria.
Last week: Lake beat Rossford 48-20; Eastwood beat Fostoria 63-0.
Last year: Lake won 66-13.
Outlook: It’s the last game of what’s been a long season for Fostoria, but the challenge gets no easier in the season finale.
Lake enters with a well-balanced offense (223.7 yards passing, 200.9 yards rushing) and plenty of weapons to make it go.
“They’re very good. Jared Rettig, their quarterback, is one of the the finer throwers around, and they have three good running backs,” Kelly said.
“They’re going to definitely be difficult to slow down,” he said.
Rettig has thrown for 1,996 yards and 25 touchdowns, with the last of his four interceptions coming back in a 38-0 Week 4 win over Otsego. He’s also run for five touchdowns.
Adam Duncan (44-858, 8 TDs) and Todd Walters (30-632, 10 TDs) provide two quality receiving targets, while Brandon Short (98-641, 9 TDs), Marcel Bryan (60-441, 5 TDs) and Nick Walsh (43-369, 3 TDs) have combined to run for 1,451 yards and 17 touchdowns.
Still, the Redmen remain upbeat for their final game.
“We’ve had a good week of practice thus far. The guys were getting to the football, playing pretty intense,” Kelly said.
“They’re going to come out and compete,” he said, adding that the youngest Redmen have been showing lots of spirit. “Our freshman just finished off an undefeated season. They have that instinct in them and I think that feeds the others.
“We’re going to try to generate offense any way we can. We have guys we think we can get the ball to in the passing game, and we’re going to run the ball,” Kelly said. “We just have to go out and attempt to do what we’ve been doing. We’re not going to try to reinvent the wheel.”
at Buckeye Central
Records: Bucyrus 4-5, 3-3 NCC; Buckeye Central 3-6, 2-4 NCC.
Coaches: Aaron Eckert, Bucyrus; Jeff Niedermeir, Buckeye Central
Last week: Galion beat Bucyrus 79-78; Buckeye Central beat Riverdale 27-26.
Last meeting: In 2010 Bucyrus beat Buckeye Central 19-13.
Outlook: It’s been about three years since these teams last met. With similar records coming into the game it could be a close one.
Last week both teams edged out opponents by one point.
“We could see a similar contest like last week, a very close back-and-forth game,” Niedermier said. With no postseason on the horizon Buckeye Central is not laying down.
“We’re going to miss the playoffs this year, so we’re trying to get a nice win here as we wrap this season up,” Niedermier said, “We’d like to get another ‘W’ to add to our record and send our seniors off happy.”
Buckeye Central will not only be playing for it’s seniors but in addition this game will be a special night. It will be Military Appreciation Night.
–The A-T Sports Staff