football_150Week 11 of the 2013 high school football season is finally upon us.  While seven Midwest Athletic Conference schools are preparing for basketball season, three still remain alive and are prepared to begin their journey toward a state championship.  All first round games will unfold Saturday evening as Marion Local hosts Fort Loramie, Coldwater travels to Pemberville to face Pemberville Eastwood, and Delphos St. John’s squares off on the road against Leipsic.  Coldwater, St. John’s and Marion Local are the conference’s most winning teams come playoff time with 50, 49, and 48 post-season victories respectively.  They look to improve upon that this week as the MAC is historically dominant against non-league foes in the opening round, holding an all-time advantage of 48-1 overall.


After beginning the season with a loss to Kenton, the Cavaliers rattled off six straight wins before falling to eventual MAC Champion Marion Local in week eight.  Since then, Coldwater picked up victories in their final two games of the season, including last week’s 42-14 triumph over Fort Recovery, to finish 8-2 on the season and in second place in the Midwest Athletic Conference.  The Cavs begin their 17th consecutive playoff trek hoping to advance to the state finals for the fifth season in a row after winning it all last season with a 10-7 victory over Kirtland.  “I feel that last year we felt more pressure heading into the playoffs because of the expectations of that group,” Coldwater head coach Chip Otten explained.  “We are excited now about the opportunity to make another run at the title.  I think the players this year really want to prove that they can keep the streak going and once again we are looking forward to extending the season.”

The Cavaliers will tangle with Pemberville Eastwood, a team that has never faced an MAC opponent in post-season history.  The Eagles, out of Wood County, finished this season with an 8-2 record while their two losses came at the hands of 9-1 Clyde and unbeaten Genoa Area, Division III and IV schools respectively.  Since their loss to Genoa Area at mid-season, the Eagles have responded with five straight wins and of their eight victories, four of them are against teams with winning records.  “It is a bit more difficult, but also exciting to face new challenges and new opponents,” Otten commented.  “It puts everyone a little on edge though because you just don’t know how good they are until you play. On film, Eastwood seems to have a solid team all the way around.   We must be disciplined defensively because of all the misdirection that they will give us.   Like us, they rely on the strength of their defense.  They run to the ball well and have good athletes throughout the lineup.  It should be a great game.”


With their come-from-behind victory last week over Minster, the Delphos St. John’s Blue Jays garnered enough computer points to advance to the post-season for the sixth season in a row.  Like last year, the Blue Jays will open the playoffs with a road game in Leipsic to take on the 8-2 Vikings.  This will mark the second year in a row and fourth time overall they have faced the Vikings in the post-season and have yet to fall.  The Blue Jays began this season 2-4, but strung together four victories to finish 6-4 overall and 6-2 in MAC play, which was good for a third place tie in the league with Minster.  “We were really green at the beginning of the year,” St. John’s head coach Todd Schulte pointed out.  “So along with growing with experience we have also started to play with confidence, which is something that wins will do for you.”

The Blue Jays edged Leipsic 36-29 in 2012, and this season will face a Viking team that ended the regular campaign with victories over McComb and Pandora Gilboa.  Their losses in 2013 came at the hands of Arlington and unbeaten Liberty-Benton.  The Vikings average more than 33 points per game and allow 20 each time they take the field.  Schulte expects his team, who picked up nearly 400 yards of offense last week against Minster, to be challenged.  “That is who we are, and that is something that will have to continue if we want to continue to play,” Schulte explained in reference to his over-powering offensive line play and stout running game against Minster.  “We have played Leipsic each of the past two years, so we do have some familiarity with them.  We know that they are a hard-nosed and physical team.  They have a three-year starter at quarterback, so that is the main place we will start to slow them down.  We need to do this and continue to play well on our end to have a chance at the victory this weekend.”


With their convincing victory last weekend over the New Bremen Cardinals, the Marion Local Flyers capped off a 10-0 season for the third time in school history and the first since 2007 when they concluded the season with a state championship.  Although most fans would agree they expected the Flyers to be exactly where they are record-wise at this point, things were very interesting over the last half of the season as injuries infiltrated their lineup including the quarterback position where for the past two weeks they were down to their emergency signal-caller Troy Homan, who was the team’s leading receiver this season as well. Despite the injuries, the Flyers still rolled through their schedule by averaging a league-best 34.0 points-per-game and 6.4 points-per-game both offensively and defensively.  “We are blessed this year to have a deep team and also to have players who are flexible enough to help us at different positions,” Marion Local head coach Tim Goodwin commented.  “All of our injured guys are day-to-day, so we won’t know their status until later in the week.  We are certainly very excited to have our whole team back on the field though, and we are very close to that being the case.”

This week, the Flyers will host the Fort Loramie Redskins in the regional quarter-final matchup.  The Redskins enter the contest 8-2 overall after putting together three straight shutout wins to close the season, averaging more than 50 points per game in each victory.  While the Redskins own victories in 2013 over both Minster and New Bremen, their post-season performance against the MAC hasn’t been as prolific.  Since 2009, the Redskins have lost to Marion Local twice as well as Minster and St. Henry in the playoffs, but Goodwin realizes that it is 2013 and they are hungry for that first post-season victory against an MAC squad.  “We don’t worry about what the opposing teams’ motivation happens to be because we have no control over that,” he remarked.  “They are a solid team who won’t beat themselves.  We feel as though their defense is their strength right now – they are similar to us in that they put a lot of pressure on the other team’s offense and take certain things away.  They have two playmakers on offense whom we are concerned about – running back Delaunte Thornton and receiver Craig Fullenkamp.  They are both outstanding football players who have made plays throughout the year, so we need to contain them and play our game in order to move on.”

by Robb Hemmelgarn