MAC Football Week 1 Playoff Previews
November 1, 2012Midwest Athletic Conference (MAC)
Ten weeks after its initial kickoff around the state, the post-season is finally upon us, and for the third season in a row, the Midwest Athletic Conference will send five teams to week eleven. The Coldwater Cavaliers are making their 16th-straight appearance in the post-season as they look to advance to their fourth consecutive Division V state championship game in hopes of bringing home the school’s third state football title. Joining them as the veterans of the group are the Marion Local Flyers and Delphos St. John’s Blue Jays. The Flyers are enjoying their eighth straight trip and 13th in the last 14 years, while the Blue Jays are making their fifth trip in a row in Division VI, where they won state titles in 2008 and 2010. The Minster Wildcats are stepping into the post-season for the third straight year after finishing the regular-season with their best record since 1992, while St. Henry is back for the first time in three years after finishing their first ten games with a 7-3 mark.
Coldwater’s quest for the Division V state championship begins at home against the Miami East Vikings from the Cross County Conference, where they finished in a three-way tie for second place in the final conference standings, while ending the year 7-3 overall. The Cavaliers made it through the Midwest Athletic Conference schedule with an unblemished 10-0 mark, while capturing their first league crown since 2008. According to Cavalier head coach Chip Otten, his boys are right where they were hoping to be before the season began. “Before the season started we all felt like we could compete in every game and have a shot to win them all, but in saying that, the way our schedule was laid out I'm not sure I thought we would run the table,” he commented. “In that regard, we are obviously proud of our team and 10-0 regular season. I don't know a whole lot about Miami East, but after watching film I would say that they run a similar style to Anna. They are big up front and run the Wing T offense, while defensively they have run three different formations in the three games that I watched. This says that they absorb and digest new things, and that their coaches have a good handle on what other teams are trying to do and get their players in position to be successful.”
The defending Division VI state champion Marion Local Flyers will also be home for week 11 when they host the Bradford Railroaders, who are making their first post-season appearance since 1982. The Railroaders joined Miami East and Tri-County North in a three-way tie for the CCC title after finishing the regular season 8-2. They average 36 points per game, with senior running back James Canan leading the charge. With a young team, the Flyers finished 8-2 overall and in second place in the MAC, while Marion Local head coach Tim Goodwin looks to extend his league-leading playoff victory total to 43 this weekend in Maria Stein. “The closest that we have seen to Canan this year is Ty Jettinghoff from St. John’s - both are excellent backs,” complimented Goodwin. “We are facing an offense that is committed to running the ball almost exclusively, which is different from most MAC teams. Right now, we are where we were hoping to be - healthy, playing good football, and ready to see where the playoff journey goes.”
Delphos St. John's
With four losses to teams with a combined record of 36-4, the Delphos St. John’s Blue Jays are ready to get the regular season behind them and take on Region 22, which they have won for the past four straight seasons. Their opponents are a familiar one, as they travel to Leipsic this week to face the Vikings – a team they knocked out of the post-season each of the past two years. The Vikings finished the regular season 8-2, and like the Blue Jays, they have run into some tough luck in their losses. After beginning the season 8-0, the Vikings dropped their final two games of the year to 9-1 Liberty Benton and 10-0 McComb. Their losses were by a combined eight points, leaving St. John’s head coach Todd Schulte well aware of the challenge that lays ahead. “Leipsic is an athletic team who isn’t real bug, but can run very well,” remarked Schulte, who enters the game with a 37-6 playoff record. “They have all three linebackers returning, so that is the strength of the defense. On offense, they have their quarterback back as well, so that is always good place to start. We need to give ourselves a chance to be successful against them, which means no turnovers, no missed tackles, and take care of scoring opportunities.”
From 1987-1992, the Minster Wildcats made six straight playoff appearances, including capturing the Division V state championship in 1989. In his three years in charge of the Minster program, head coach Nate Moore has developed a sense of expectancy as opposed to pleasant surprise when it comes to the Wildcats and their playoff aspirations. This season marks their third straight year in the post-season, and although the road ahead could be tougher than past years, Moore has his kids ready. They will host the Tri-County North Panthers, whose previous playoff experience includes a pair of losses to St. Henry in 1990 and in 2006. They finished this season 7-3 and in second place in the Cross County Conference. The Panthers are currently riding a four-game winning streak in which they averaged a margin of victory of nearly 25 points. The Wildcats are also enjoying an extended win streak, as they have captured five straight after their mid-season losses to St. Henry and Coldwater. “We have played two playoff-type of games in the last two weeks against Versailles and Delphos St. John’s,” Moore explained. “We now know what we need to do to be mentally prepared to win those types of games. Our guys have gained a lot of confidence in themselves. Scheme-wise, Tri-County North’s offense would be most similar to Anna. They are a Wing-T team and like to pound the football on the ground, although their senior quarterback throws a nice deep ball.” Moore concluded, “This game is a big deal for our football program and for our school district. It’s a chance for us to help out the athletic budget with another home game and give all of our fans in the community another chance to see our football team play at Memorial Field - we are very excited.”
The final MAC team are veteran head coach Jeff Starkey’s St. Henry Redskins. Following 34 straight non-losing seasons, the Redskins endured 3-7 and 1-9 seasons in the past two years, making this year’s 7-3 slate even more special to Redskin fans. Following a two-game skid to Coldwater and Marion Local a few weeks back, the Redskins have won three straight, including last week’s 17-14 victory over the Versailles Tigers, which nailed down their second home playoff game since 2006. The Redskins will host the Fort Loramie Redskins, who ended their regular season at 8-2 overall. “I think there was a tremendous amount of motivation throughout the off-season, but it was so important to get started with our two non-conference games this year,” Starkey pointed out, referring to wins over Cincinnati Mariemont and Eaton to begin the year. “Each game we have grown some and have become more confident as the season progresses. Ft. Loramie has a strong running game led by a very good tailback, while their quarterback is also a very effective runner. Obviously, we need to keep improving on defense to stop their running game if we want to advance another week in the playoffs.”
In first-round playoff games against non-league opponents, the Midwest Athletic Conference is 43-1 overall, including 20-0 since 2006. Delphos St. John’s, Marion Local, Minster, and St. Henry will all open the post-season on Friday night, while Coldwater will wait until Saturday to take on Miami East.
By Robb Hemmelgarn