football_150Three Midwest Athletic Conference teams began their playoff trek last week and each survived for another week as they prepare for their respective regional semi-finals this Saturday.  Coldwater upended Eastwood 42-16 last Saturday, while Delphos St. John’s eliminated Leipsic 33-18, and Marion Local blasted Fort Loramie, 63-14.  Since 1981, the MAC is 51-1 all-time in opening-round playoff games against teams from outside the conference.  This weekend, the Cavaliers will square off with Doylestown Chippewa, while St. John’s will meet Tiffin Calvert, and Marion Local will face Covington.

Last week, the Flyers had no trouble kicking the Fort Loramie Redskins from the post-season.  Flyer fans welcomed the return of several individuals who have missed recent weeks due to injury, but especially quarterback Adam Bertke, who finished the game 7/8 for 137 yards and two touchdowns.  The Pitt-bound senior also ran for a pair of scores in the victory.  “We played at a high level offensively which was nice to see with some of our guys playing after being out for a period of time,” Flyer head coach Tim Goodwin explained.  “Adam is our leader offensively – he is talented and has played in so many big games.  Getting him back right in time for the playoffs gave us a big boost mentally.  The fact that we didn’t punt and scored nine touchdowns was definitely a pleasant surprise.”

On Saturday at Alexander Stadium in Piqua, the Flyers will tangle with the Covington Buccs, who currently sit at 11-0 overall.  The Buccs closest game in 2013 was a 22-14 win over Tri-County North, but other than that they blasted opponents by an average of 46 points.  Covington is 0-8 in post-season play against the MAC since 1996, with four of those losses coming to the Flyers,   The two squads last squared off in 2009, with the Flyers capturing the 20-17 victory.  “Covington runs a flex-bone option attack, something that we have not seen since we played them in 2009,” Goodwin pointed out.  “It is unique and their whole philosophy is different from what is the norm right now in our league.  Possessions will be limited so we need to be efficient when we have the ball.  Defensively, we need to be disciplined and physical in order to come out on top this week.”

The Cavaliers opened their 18th consecutive post-season by dismantling Pemberville Eastwood 42-16.  This week, Coldwater fans will make another long haul when they head to Tiffin to bash helmets with the Doylestown Chippewa Chips.  “Distance is not an issue for us,” head coach Chip Otten assured.  “We make sure we aren’t rushed – we stop at a rest area along the way and travel pretty relaxed.  Both teams have to travel now, so it really isn’t a disadvantage.”

Against Eastwood, the Coldwater running game was dominant with 272 yards, and Otten expects the same this week while realizing the passing attack will also need to get into the mix.  Brody Hoying ran for 223 yards, while Mitch Schoenherr added 37 on eight carries in their week 11 victory that pushed their team to 9-2 on the season.  “We are continuing to run the ball very well with Brody Hoying and Mitch Schoenherr,” Otten remarked.  “Plus, our four or five receivers make enough plays that it is hard focus on one person.  The offensive line has also continued to be aggressive and athletic, springing our athletes offensively.  Once our defense got a feel for Eastwood’s speed in the Wing-T, our guys were very disciplined in their assignments and pretty much shut down the running game and we are looking for that to continue this week.”

Eighth-seeded Chippewa is currently 9-2 and has averaged nearly 44 points per game in their nine wins.  They are enjoying a seven-game winning streak including their 62-28 opening-round victory last week over previously unbeaten Columbia.  “Chippewa is new to the playoff scene as of late, but they have good size and different playmakers that they count on.  We need to remain disciplined in our defensive assignments and keep playing with the energy that we have been.  We also need to improve our passing attack and take advantage of alignments when the opportunities present themselves to come out with a victory this week.”

With their 33-18 victory over Leipsic last week, the St. John’s Blue Jays improved to 7-4 on the season and earned a date with 7-4 Tiffin Calvert Senecas in Findlay this Saturday.  Calvert is 1-3 against the MAC all-time in post-season action, and they have fallen to the conference in their last three meetings including 35-0 to St. John’s in 2011.  “We have been in one-and-done mode since week seven,” commented St. John’s head coach Todd Schulte.  “There really hasn’t been any change in our focus or preparation, so we try to keep things as close as possible to how we prepared back in the regular season.”

The Blue Jays trailed 7-6 early against Leipsic, but a 60-yard run by Tyler Jettinghoff fueled a 21-point outburst that gave St. John’s a 27-7 lead at intermission.  Luke MacLennan paced the Blue Jay running attack with 172 yards, while Jettinghoff finished his night with 150 yards on 20 carries.  “Our plan offensively was to run the ball and we were able to run for more than 400 yards,” Schulte pointed out.  “On the other side of the ball, I felt that our secondary played their best game of the year.”

Like St. John’s, Tiffin Calvert got off to a slow start this season, but turned things around in a hurry.  After starting 0-3, the Senecas have won six straight and seven of their last eight contests.  Last week, they advanced with a 34-31 triumph over Edon and are led by junior quarterback Tyler Long.  “Their quarterback is ‘Mr. Do-It-All’,” Schulte praised.  “For us to have success this week, we will need to slow him down!”

by Robb Hemmelgarn