ANNA — When looking over game film of Anna’s close win over New Bremen last Friday, coach Nick Marino immediately picked out two things that need fixed for Friday’s game against Delphos St. John’s: physicality and tackling.
The Rockets will try to improve in those areas on Friday against the Blue Jays in a Midwest Athletic Conference game. A repeat of how the Rockets played in a 28-20 win over New Bremen won’t cut it against St. John’s according to Marino. But, Marino said he’s been pleased with how the team practiced following the game.
“The kids have really responded well in practice and have been excited to get ready for Delphos,” Marino said. “… We figured out we better tackle. We didn’t tackle well and didn’t do well on some of the fundamentals. We went back to the fundamentals this week, so we’re hoping to see those pay off. And against a physical team, we have to match that, especially since it’s going to be warmer.”
Anna quarterback Travis Meyer suffered a knee injury after the first play against New Bremen, and Marino said he’s unsure if he’ll play Friday night. If Meyer doesn’t play, Marino said he’s confident in sophomore Bart Bixler, who threw for 75 yards and also ran for 23 yards and one touchdown.
“Bart stepped up and did a really nice job, especially taking over a game on such sort notice,” Marino said. “He did a very good job, and we were really pleased with that. We’ve got two running backs with him and good skill kids on the perimeter.”
The running backs, Riley Huelskamp and Aidan Endsley, are both among the top five leaders in rushing yards of MAC players. Endsley has rushed for 443 yards and five touchdowns, while Huelskamp has rushed for 437 yards and seven touchdowns.
The Blue Jays average 274 yards of offense per game and allow an average of 170 on defense. Quarterback Jared Wurst has thrown for 441 yards and three touchdowns.
St. John’s beat Versailles 24-21 in overtime last Saturday to improve to 3-1 overall and 1-1 in the MAC.
“We were able to see them, and they’re a good football team,” Marino said. “They’re physical, they’ve got a quarterback that’s hard to tackle, who’s a big kid, and they’ve got a lot of skill kids with a lot of speed.”
Anna, which is ranked third in the state in Division V, leads the MAC with an average of 421 yards per game and 45 points per game on offense.
Fort Loramie at Ansonia
Fort Loramie would love to have another shot at Miami East after letting a 13-point lead slip away in a 27-26 loss last Friday. But since the Redskins and Vikings are in different playoff divisions, that’s guaranteed not to happen.
With Loramie (2-2, 1-1 Cross County Conference) still in the hunt for a league title and playoff berth, coach Whit Parks said the team has done a good job of moving on from last week’s loss.
“We made some mistakes and got hurt on a couple of calls, but that’s the way it is,” Parks said. “That’s real life. You get beat, you move on. We’ve had a great week of practice so far and have put it behind us. That’s how you treat these situations. You move on when you have a disappointment.”
The Tigers (1-3) lost 52-6 to Bethel last week but have played every other opponent close. Ansonia beat Arcanum 28-24 in Week 3 and lost its first two games to Riverside and Tri-County North by a combined 14 points.
Parks said the team isn’t overlooking Ansonia because of last week’s lopsided score.
“Ansonia is a physical bunch, and we have to go down there, so we’re trying to gear up for another tough CCC road game,” Parks said. “… They’re very physical up front, they play hard, and they’re obviously well-coached.”
Parks said he’s been pleased with the team’s progress through the first half of the season, and he thinks they can put together a winning streak with better execution in key moments.
“I think we’re getting better as a team,” Parks said. “There’s some things we have to clean up that cost us last week, including (extra points). I think we’re making progress and have a chance to be a really good team, but we have a tough, physical opponent in front of us.”
Elgin at Lehman Catholic
The Cavaliers will celebrate homecoming on the Lehman Catholic campus on Friday and try to stretch their winning streak to four. Lehman lost in overtime to Fort Recovery to open the season but has been on a roll since, including a 62-8 win over Ridgemont last Friday to open Northwest Central Conference play. Lehman had nearly 600 yards of offense in the lopsided win.
Elgin is a newcomer to the NWCC and lost 52-20 last week to Riverside.
Fort Recovery at Minster
It’s a crucial conference game for both teams and is the first meeting since two close contests between the two teams last year. Fort Recovery beat Minster 33-21 in regular season, while the Wildcats won a Division VII regional final 35-33.
Minster (3-1) looks to rebound after a 21-7 loss over Marion Local. Jared Huelsman has led the Wildcats’ offense with 465 rushing yards (second in MAC) and 538 passing yards (fourth in MAC).
The Indians (2-2) lost 33-7 to Coldwater last week. Will Homan has amassed 709 rushing yards and 10 rushing touchdowns in the first four games and ranks first among MAC players in both areas. Quarterback Cade Wendel has thrown for 414 yards.
Parkway at New Bremen
New Bremen (2-2) will try to build off playing state-ranked Anna to an eight-point loss in their homecoming game against Parkway.
The Cardinals put up 273 yards of offense against Anna (more than their 35-0 loss to St. Henry in a Week 3 MAC opener) and were the first team to hold the Rockets to under 300 yards in a game. Quarterback Nolan Bornhorst is among the MAC’s leaders in passing yards (287) and rushing yards (329) this season.
The Panthers (1-3) beat Spencerville 14-13 in Week 2 and have been outscored by an average of 40-20 in every other game. Nick Hawk (391 yards) and Caden May (282) are both in the top 10 in rushing yards in the MAC.
Parkway’s only victory last season was a 41-10 win over New Bremen in Week 5.
Marion Local at Versailles
Versailles (1-3) has opened MAC play with two consecutive losses and has a tough assignment with the undefeated Flyers.
Marion Local is third in the MAC with an average of 318 yards per game and third in total defense by allowing an average of 176 yards. Marion Local’s wins have come against opponents with a combined 9-7 record, and they’ve allowed 21 points in the four games.
The Tigers have allowed an average of 248 yards and 24 points per game while putting up an average of 266 yards and 23 points on offense.
Hardin Northern at Riverside
After two scoreless games, Riverside’s offense exploded in an NWCC opener at Elgin. The Pirates (2-2) amassed 432 yards on the ground in the 53-20 win. Gaven Anderson had 283 rushing yards on six carries and scored four touchdowns, while Luke Roby had 117 yards on seven carries with two scores.
It could be another lopsided win for Riverside against Hardin Northern. The Polar Bears (1-3) lost 41-6 last Friday to Lima Perry, who entered the game winless.
Contact Bryant Billing at (937) 538-4818, or follow @SidneyOHSports on Twitter.