One gridiron team — St. John’s — rebounded from a potentially devastating loss the week before with a big win.
The other — Marion Local — comes off a loss that knocked them out of a tie for the top spot in the Midwest Athletic Conference race.
These two teams will meet up Friday in Maria Stein in an effort to stay — or get back — on the right track.
Blue Jay (3-2, 2-1 MAC) coach Todd Schulte doesn’t know if it’s such a good thing that the Flyers (4-1, 2-1 MAC) are coming off a loss.
“Many times, that just makes you step back and re-evaluate things. You don’t want it to happen again, so you work a little harder and prepare a little better; I expect them to be very ready to play us,” Schulte explained. “What stands out for Marion is their quarterback, Adam Bertke. They have gone to more of a spread attack because of his abilities back there, either running or throwing. They have good speed and quickness in their skill positions and they have a good amount of size up front that protects him very well. Even though they spread you out more, they can still line it up in the ‘I’ and run the typical Marion Local stuff.
“Defensively, they just run to the football so well. They have a solid line and they have two good linebackers in (Kyle) Mescher and (Alaric) Keller that run and pursue well. They maybe aren’t as blitz-reliant this year as they’ve been in the past but they remain aggressive.”
The Jays will counter that defensive unit with an offense led by Tyler Jettinghoff (80 rushes, 698 yards, 10 scores; 9 grabs, 124 yards, 1), Luke MacLennan (27 totes, 168 yards, 1), Mark Boggs (17-of-49 passing, 238 yards, 3 TDs, 5 picks), Andrew Metzger (4 catches, 53 yards, 1) and Luke Wrasman (4 pancake blocks). However, MacLennan is day-to-day with an injury, with tackle Dylan Stump and skill player Ben Wrasman also still out.
Brett Schwinnen is the top defender (28 solos, 21 assists), along with Cody Looser (23 and 20), Ben Youngpeter (26 and 14), Troy Warnecke (18 and 19), Metzger (24 and 11) and Kody White (13 and 17; 3 fumble recoveries).
“We have to get our offense moving forward on a consistent basis. It seems that we take two steps forward and one back,” Schulte continued. “We have to get better at the things we can control and not worry about what we cannot. We have to eliminate penalties and turnovers; those kill and end drives.
“At the same time, special teams come up big in games like this; whether it’s a field position battle or you can get a big play out of your specialities.”
The Jays come off a 28-7 defeat of Anna.
“We challenged the players after the loss to Coldwater on how they would respond. We got off to a quick start and led 22-0 at the half,” Schulte added. “It was frustrating when the weather hit because I felt we were playing very well and had the edge but then we couldn’t maintain it after that. We lost our edge sitting around so long before we restarted the game. We have to keep our intensity up, no matter what.”
The Flyers were humming along until a 24-14 loss to Versailles over two days.
“We had five turnovers; that won’t win you a lot of games. Up until then, we had taken to our new offense pretty well,” Marion coach Tim Goodwin said. “We have a lot of good skill players but we didn’t have a traditional tight end and we were thin at fullback coming into the season, which is why we’ve spread it out. Plus, we have a quarterback we are very high on.
“Defensively, we struggled early on. We have so many young players on both sides of the ball; we have eight sophomores and a freshman in there a lot, so we are experiencing the expected growing pains. We’re coming along and had a bump past week.”
Bertke (83-of-130 passing, 944 yards, 5 TDs, 6 picks; 63 totes, 424 yards, 8) leads the attack as a returning junior, along with running back Jacy Goettemoeller (87 rushes, 392 yards, 9 scores) and Troy Homan (18 catches, 204 yards). However, top receiver Jordan Rethman is out with an injury.
Mescher (53 tackles) and Keller (47) are two of the veterans back for the 3-4 defense.
“We’re pretty sore coming into this week: we only got three plays in Friday before it ended up being postponed and basically played the entire game Saturday, so we started the week a little more banged up,” Goodwin added. “What you worry about with St. John’s is their ability to make the big play. Not many teams have stopped that. Plus, they play the typically good defense.
“Turnovers cost us the game last week and we have to work on making sure that doesn’t happen again. That will be the key for us, plus continuing to get better.”
Kickoff is 7:30 p.m.