ANNA — Anna has already secured a playoff berth and will have a great test for postseason play the next two weeks.
The Rockets travel to perennial Midwest Athletic Conference power Coldwater on Friday before returning home next week to host Minster. The Cavaliers won state titles every season from 2012 to 2015 and finished as runner-ups last year, while Minster has played in state title games twice in the last four seasons.
“Those are two big games,” Anna coach Nick Marino said. “Obviously we’re not looking any further than this Coldwater game because it’s a big game. The kids are excited about it and the community is excited about it. …The kids have been working real hard, and that’s why we’re getting to play in big games.”
Anna was able to contain Parkway’s rushing attack in a 42-0 win last Friday. Coldwater presents a different challenge with the top passing offense in the MAC.
Quarterback Sam Broering has thrown for 1,369 yards and 13 touchdowns for the Cavaliers with five interceptions. Receiver Jacob Wenning leads the conference in receptions (31), receiving yards (568) and touchdown receptions (10), while Ben Wenning has 29 catches for 360 yards. Coldwater averages 267 yards and 22 points per game.
“They have several receivers that are good and up towards the top of the league, so we’ve got to make sure we keep those guys underneath us and get to the quarterback a little bit,” Marino said.
The Rockets were able to contain St. Henry’s passing attack two weeks ago, and Marino is hoping for a similar performance against Coldwater.
Anna’s defense has allowed an average of 101 passing yards and one touchdown per game this season while collecting nine interceptions. Luke Cantrel leads Anna with three interceptions on the season.
Anna (7-1), which hasn’t beaten Coldwater since 2010, will make the playoffs regardless of the results of its last two games according to Drew Pasteur’s Fantastic50.net. Both games will be big in the race for a first-round home game, though.
A win over Coldwater would likely be enough for a first-round game, while wins in both games would clinch a home game and earn Anna either the first or second seed in Division V, Region 20. The Rockets are currently ranked No. 1 in Region 20.
National Trail at Fort Loramie
The Redskins have been on a roll the last three weeks in Cross County Conference play and will try to continue on Friday at home against National Trail.
Fort Loramie (6-2, 5-1 CCC) beat Tri-Village 49-14 last Friday. After the Redskins shut out their previous two opponents, the Patriots scored two touchdowns in the second half against Loramie’s second stringers.
National Trail (3-5, 2-4) beat Mississinawa Valley 41-12 last Friday to break a two-game losing streak. The three teams the Blazers have beaten have a combined 6-19 record. They’ve lost several lopsided games, included a 40-7 loss at Ansonia on Oct. 6 and 47-29 loss at Tri-County North on Sept. 29.
Fort Loramie has averaged 50 points and 385 yards of offense per game the last three weeks. Most of the yards have come on the ground.
Senior running back Mike Hoying has rushed for 271 yards and 10 touchdowns in the last three weeks, while junior Carter Mescher has rushed for 179 yards and two touchdowns.
Plenty of other players have helped move the chains for Fort Loramie, including nine others last Friday. Quarterback Austin Siegel has thrown for 222 yards and two touchdowns the last three weeks.
National Trail allows an average of 34 points per game.
Lima Perry at Lehman Catholic
The Cavaliers extended their Northwest Central Conference roll to five games with a 55-0 win over Upper Scioto Valley last Friday. Lehman had 536 yards off offense, with quarterback Elliott Gilardi throwing for 191 and running for 133 on four carries.
The Cavaliers (7-1, 5-0 NWCC) have scored 50 or more points in the last six weeks but look to have their biggest test since a Week 2 game against Miami East.
Perry started 0-3 but has won five consecutive NWCC games. The Commodores edged Riverside 29-20 last Friday and beat their first four conference opponents by an average score of 45.5-4.5.
Gilardi’s big game pushed him further up the leaderboards in the NWCC. He’s second in the conference in passing yards (1,149), fourth in rushing yards (644) and third in touchdowns scored (13).
Running back Owen Smith leads the NWCC in rushing yards (1,207) and touchdowns scored (17), while receiver Kameron Lee is first in receiving yards (426).
Versailles at Minster
Versailles’ struggles to win games this year have been due moreso to offensive problems than defensive problems. The Tigers (3-5, 2-4 MAC) allow an average of 257 yards per game, which puts them in the top half of MAC teams defensively behind St. Henry, Marion Local and Anna.
Jared Huelsman will try to keep Minster’s offense moving against Versailles. The Wildcats are fourth in the MAC in average yards per game (311), and Huelsman is a big reason why.
Huelsman, a senior quarterback, ranks in the top three in the MAC in passing (1,191) and rushing (820) yards. He’s rushed for nine touchdowns and thrown for eight.
Versailles’ Kurtis Rutschilling leads the MAC with 91 tackles and is tied for second in fumble recoveries (3). Evan Hiestand has a conference-best 11 sacks, while AJ Ahrens is second with eight. The Tigers are second-to-last in the MAC in average yards per game (265) and seventh in points per game (22.9).
The win has playoff implications for Minster. Though the Wildcats (4-4, 2-4 MAC) have a postseason berth locked up, a win is necessary to keep hopes of a first-round home game alive. Minster likely needs to beat Versailles and Anna next week in order to host a first-round game.
Fort Recovery at New Bremen
Fort Recovery and New Bremen have scored a lot of points at times this year and haven’t stopped many opponents from scoring a lot of points.
The Indians (4-4, 3-3 MAC) average 315 yards and 21 points per game while allowing an average of 334 yards and 25 points per game on defense. Will Homan has led Fort Recovery’s offense. He’s rushed for 1,571 yards and 16 touchdowns.
New Bremen (3-5, 1-5 MAC) has averaged 278 yards of offense and 23 points per game while allowing an average of 265 yards and 29 points per game.
It’s the final home game of the season New Bremen and a must-win for Fort Recovery. The Indians have to win their final two games (including a Week 10 game against state-ranked St. Henry) to keep playoff hopes alive.
Riverside at Ridgemont
Riverside has an easy task while it waits for its Week 10 home showdown against Lehman Catholic. Ridgemont (0-8) lost a close game to Ridgedale in a season opener but has lost every other game by at least 30 points.
A win over Lehman (5-3, 4-1 NWCC) next week would earn Riverside at least a share of the conference title and likely a first-round home playoff game. The Pirates already have a playoff berth locked up.
Contact Bryant Billing at (937) 538-4818, or follow @SidneyOHSports on Twitter.