One will be done after tonight’s game.
The other will be moving on into the second season, win or lose.
However, both Jefferson and St. John’s still have plenty to play for in their respective leagues battles in what is expected to be — again — a rainy Friday night.
The two back-yard archrivals are again set to renew Northwest Conference acquaintances tonight at Stadium Park.
Jefferson’s football team may not be going anywhere after tonight’s matchup with archrival Spencerville at Stadium Park.
The Bearcats cling to slim — and slimmer — playoff hopes, standing 11th in Region 18.
The Wildcats (6-3, 4-3 NWC) would like nothing better than to shatter the Bearcats (7-2, 5-2 NWC) very slim playoff hopes (11th in Region 18, with Jefferson 14th in that same region).
Jefferson coach Bub Lindeman knows what the Bearcats will bring to the table.
“They run the Wing-T offense and they run it very well. Coach (Jim) Morris knows that offense as well as anyone I know,” Lindeman said. “They have three running backs and you have to deal with all of them. It is very similar to what St. Marys used to do in their hey-day and it was very effective. This is also a very experienced group that has been playing varsity ball for three years and you can see the maturation process.
“Defensively, they run a base 4-4 but they make it look like a 5-2 at times; they blitz linebackers on occasion. It is very similar to the Desert Swarm that was popularized in the 1990s by Arizona where they are trying to dictate to you want you will do.”
The Wildcats (6-3, 4-3 NWC) average 30.4 points and 353.2 yards (236.8 rushing) per outing. Zavier Buzard — who returned last week after sitting out the Perry game due to injury — leads the attack (163 yards, 1,106 yards, 16 scores; 7 grabs, 97 yards, 1), followed by Quinten Wessell (90 rushes, 610 yards, 12), Drew Kortokrax (22 totes, 187 yards, 2; 12 catches, 238 yards, 1; 25 punts, 42.3-yard average), Ross Thompson (24 catches, 500 yards, 4), Tyler Mox (5 for 120, 1), Austin Jettinghoff (51-of-113 yards, 1,040 yards, 8 scores, 6 picks; 20 extra points), Geoff Ketcham (32 pancake blocks), Evan Stant (20) and Jordan McCann (10).
The Wildcat “D” — 18.7 markers and 285.7 yards (134.2 rushing) — will need to stop the run-heavy Bearcat attack behind Wessell (79 solos, 36 assists; 3 sacks), Thompson (75 and 27, 11 for loss; 3 sacks), Dalton Hicks (63 and 34, 10 for loss), Kortokrax (44 and 15), Zac Bland (32 and 17), Colin McConnahea (31 and 14), Zach Kimmett (31 and 13; 4 sacks) and Chris Truesdale (5 picks).
“The kids know what this game means to the programs, to us as coaches and to themselves. They had a great week of practice and will be ready to go; that won’t be a problem,” Lindeman continued. “The one thing you have to do this week is keep the emotions in check once the game starts. You mark this game on your calendar every year, so it really is special. It’s about execution; there won’t be any surprises. Our defense has to be very physical against a very physical offense that wants nothing more than to beat on you. Offensively, this is week 10. So our linemen have seen about everything that can be thrown against them.
“Again, it comes down to executing in the running because that is what we want to do.”
The Wildcats come off a 17-0 loss at Ada on a rainy Friday last week.
“We had opportunities to score points that we left on the field. We moved the football but when we got into the red zone, we really hurt ourselves with penalties,” Lindeman added. “Our defense did a great job of making them one-dimensional, which we wanted to do; we stopped their run and forced them to use the short pass.
“It’s a tough loss to come back from but the leadership that we have in this senior class has been extraordinary. They have gotten us refocused each and every week, win or lose.”
The Bearcats of head man John Zerbe sport a 3-headed monster in the backfield with the likes of John Smith (188 attempts, 1,225 yards, 7.8 avg., 15 TDs); Colton Miller (152 attempts, 989 yards, 6.5 avg., 9 TDs), who hopes to go over the millenial mark quickly; and Anthony Schuh (80 attempts, 495 yards, 5.9 avg., 8 TDs).
Derek Goecke has only thrown 22 passes but completes six of them for 107 yards and three touchdowns and been picked off six times.
Goecke and Hunter Patton (1 score) each had four picks on the defensive side.
Miller has punted 14 times (28.7-yard average) and Logan Vandemark seven (28.5).
Both St. John’s and Minster stand fourth in their respective regions coming into tonight’s Midwest Athletic Conference clash at Wildcat Field in Minster: St. John’s in Region 22 and Minster in Region 24.
Both want to make sure they assure themselves of a home playoff game when the OHSAA second season begins next Friday, so there’s a lot on the line tonight for Blue Jay coach Todd Schulte versus the Wildcats (7-2, 5-2 MAC).
“This is a good football team that has only lost to Coldwater and St. Henry. Two things concern me,” Schulte began. “One is their overall size. They have good size up front on both sides of the ball and they have size in their two main receivers: Devon Poeppelman and Ethan Wolf; both are very athletic and make things happen after the catch. The second thing is speed in their skill players, especially their two running backs: Troy Kauffman and Korey Schulte; they aren’t big running backs but they are also fast and athletic. Adam Niemeyer returns as the quarterback and he can do it with both his arm and his legs.
“The defense is led by a pair of big defensive tackles but overall, they really run well to the football.”
Tyler Jettinghoff (160 rushes, 1,287 yards, 15 scores; 15 receptions, 167 yards, 1) tops the offense — 22.3 points and 289 yards (226.4 rushing) per game — for the Blue Jays (6-3, 5-2 MAC), along with Luke MacLennan (56 rushes, 370 yards, 4), Jake Hays (6 grabs, 112 yards, 1), Andrew Metzger (6 for 88, 1; 22 points as placekicker), Jared Knebel (6 for 75), Mark Boggs (44-of-104 passing, 553 yards, 3 TDs, 9 picks) and guard Seth Bockey (8 pancake blocks).
The defense — ceding 13.1 points, 241.6 yards (140.2 rushing) per — is led by Brent Schwinnen (49 solos, 32 assists), Cody Looser (46 and 34), Kody White (34 and 27), Ben Youngpeter (34 and 20), Troy Warnecke (28 and 25; 30 punts, 33.6-yard average), Metzger (33 and 15; 3 picks), Hays (32 and 15) and Brock Bonifas (27 and 19; 7 quarterback harrassments).
“For us, it comes to offense and establishing the run; we will need to get some movement up front to get those yards and control the football. At the same time, our passing game needs to keep playing as it has been: hitting 50-60 of our passes; and take pressure off the running game,” he continued. “Defensively, we cannot allow Niemeyer to sit back there in the pocket and see the field. If that happens, it will be a long night for our defensive backs. We have to pressure him and make him uncomfortable.”
Jays rallied from a 3-0 halftime deficit to New Bremen to score the final 34 points in the rain at Stadium Park.
“I’m not sure if it was coming off a big win against Versailles the week before and everybody talking playoffs or what as to why we played poorly the first half. Whatever the reason, we did not execute very well the first half,” Schulte added. “At the half, we didn’t make many adjustments at all but focused on simple execution; we just had to play as we are capable of. We also simply had to hang onto the football.”