Anna is looking to beat Coldwater for consecutive seasons for the first time since joining the Midwest Athletic Conference on Friday. The Rockets will likely have to slow Coldwater senior quarterback Jake Hemmelgarn to do it.
Anna (6-1, 4-1) will host the Cavaliers (7-0, 5-0) on Friday in a MAC showdown between two state-ranked squads. Aside from the conference race, the game has big playoff implications for the squads, which are both in Division VI, Region 23.
The game will feature the MAC’s two best offenses — though they get their yards differently.
Anna is ranked No. 5 in Div. VI in this week’s state Associated Press poll and leads the MAC with an average of 404 yards and 43 points per game. The Rockets get 287 yards per game on the ground behind the rushing attack led by senior running back Riley Huelskamp and quarterback Bart Bixler.
Huelskamp, who became Anna’s career leading rusher last week, has gained a MAC-best 1,124 yards on 109 carries this season and scored a conference-best 18 rushing touchdowns. Bixler ranks fifth in the MAC in rushing yards (652) and third in TDs (13). Bixler has also thrown for 748 yards and eight TDs with three interceptions.
Coldwater is ranked No. 1 in D-VI in this week’s state AP poll and ranks second in the MAC with an average of 402 yards and 42 points per game. The Cavaliers gain 208 yards per game in the air behind the arm of Hemmelgarn, who has thrown for 1,425 yards and 17 TDs with three interceptions and rushed for 697 yards and 12 TDs. Noah Miller has a team-high 25 receptions and 394 receiving yards.
Both teams rank among the conference’s best defensively. The Rockets have surrendered an average of 252 yards and 11.4 points per game while Coldwater has given up an average of 236 yards and 11.1 points per game.
A victory is needed for Anna to stay in the MAC race, as both Coldwater and Marion Local enter Friday’s games undefeated in conference play with three games to go.
The winner of Friday’s game will also likely effectively secure a first-round home playoff game. Coldwater currently ranks second in the Region 23 and Anna ranks third. The top four seeds in each region earn home playoff games.
Drew Pasteur’s Fantastic50.net projects Anna would likely earn the No. 3 seed in the region by beating Coldwater and following with wins over Parkway (2-5) and Delphos St. John’s (1-6) in the last two weeks.
The site projects Coldwater would finish no worse than a No. 4 seed with a win against Anna and St. Henry next week and would likely earn the No. 1 seed by winning out and beating Marion Local in Week 10.
Minster at Marion Local
Minster travels to Marion Local in this week’s other big MAC showdown. The Wildcats (6-1, 4-1 MAC) will try to snap the Flyers’ five game winning streak.
Marion Local (6-1, 5-0 MAC) is ranked first in Div. VII in this week’s state AP poll and averages 324 yards and 31 points per game. Quarterback Kyle Muhlenkamp directs the squad’s balanced offensive attack and has thrown for 903 yards and four TDs with eight interceptions. Brandon Fleck has rushed for 559 yards and seven TDs.
Minster is ranked seventh in D-VI in this week’s state AP poll and averages 365 yards and 34 points per game. Senior QB Jacob Niemeyer has thrown for 1,111 yards and 11 touchdowns with three interceptions and Alex Schmitmeyer has run for 1,042 yards and 16 TDs.
Marion Local ranks first among MAC schools in allowing conference lows in yards (205) and points (9.4) per game. Minster allows an average of 259 yards and 16.5 points per game.
Mississinawa Valley at Fort Loramie
The Redskins are looking for their seventh consecutive victory when they host Mississinawa Valley on Friday in Cross County Conference action.
The Blackhawks (5-2, 4-1) have won four consecutive games since falling to 1-2 after a loss to Ansonia in Week 3.
Will Mississinawa Valley threaten the Redskins, who have won with running clock margins against their last three opponents? Comparing common opponents suggests the Blackhawks will have their work cut out for them.
Fort Loramie, which is ranked No. 6 in D-VII in this week’s state AP poll, beat Tri-Village 47-6 on the road last week and Bethel 59-0 the previous week. Mississinawa Valley edged Bethel 22-20 last week and Tri-Village 19-8 in Week 4.
Waynesfield-Goshen at Lehman Catholic
The Cavaliers will look to bounce back from a shutout loss to Hardin Northern when it hosts Waynesfield-Goshen on Friday at Sidney Memorial Stadium.
Waynesfield-Goshen (5-2, 2-2 NWCC) has lost two consecutive games, including a 6-0 loss last Friday at Riverside. Lehman (3-4, 3-1) had similar problems in the rain last Friday against the Polar Bears and managed 31 passing yards in the loss.
Versailles at New Bremen
The Cardinals will look to keep their playoff push going when they host Versailles in a MAC game on Friday.
New Bremen (5-2, 3-2 MAC) bounced back from a lopsided loss to Coldwater with a 40-18 victory over Parkway last week. Versailles (3-4, 2-3) will look to get back on track after losing its second consecutive lopsided game in a 38-7 loss to Marion Local.
Upper Scioto Valley at Riverside
The Pirates will seek to win back-to-back games for the first time this season when they host Upper Scioto Valley in NWCC play on Friday.
Riverside (3-4, 2-2 NWCC) held on after scoring its lone TD in the first half for a 6-0 win at Waynesfield-Goshen last week. Upper Scioto Valley (3-4, 1-3) has won one game since Week 2 and lost 48-0 at NWCC leader Lima Perry last week.
Reach Bryant Billing at 937-538-4818, or follow @SidneyOHSports on Twitter and @BryantBillingSDN on Facebook.