Records: Hopewell-Loudon 3-2, 2-0; Mohawk 2-3, 1-1 MAL.
Coaches: Jeremy Nutter, Hopewell-Loudon; Erik Baker, Mohawk.
Last year: Hopewell Loudon 44, Mohawk 12
Outlook: Baker's team did just about everything right last week in a blowout win of North Baltimore. Its defense allowed the Tigers just eight points.
If the Warriors are hoping for another big week on that side of the ball, Baker said they have to do one thing: Control Mark Bouillon.
Bouillon is averaging more than 112 yards rushing so far, but Baker said that doesn't tell the whole story of his value to the Chieftains.
"Defensively it's making sure you're lined up to their various formations, and find No. 80," Baker said, referring to Bouillon. "Whether it's an empty running jet sweep, or a tailback, or one back gun, or in their wildcat set, 80 is the key."
Nutter was asked what makes Bouillon, who also has 14 catches for 162, special as a player.
"Mark Bouillon is a selfless kid," Nutter said. "He's dedicated himself in weight room, done exactly what we asked him to do. I can't ask for anything better to coach, a better role model for the young (guys)."
But if Baker's impressed with Bouillon, Mohawk quarterback Drew Loose has Nutter's attention.
"He's a quarterback anybody would die to have," Nutter said. "He's a dynamic player. We're gonna have to tackle well and play great defense, not good defense."
Loose threw for 239 yards and five touchdowns last week against North Baltimore. He also ran for 112 yards and another TD.
Baker said against H-L, Mohawk will have to keep Loose protected.
"They're a solid 4-4 with a little more blitzing this year," Baker said of the Chieftains' defense. "We fully expect them to load the box and see how we effectively counter that with our offense.
"We've got to be able to protect our quarterback and take advantage of what they present us."
Hopewell-Loudon defeated Lakota, 25-14, last week. Nutter said if the Chieftains want to remain unbeaten in the MAL, they need to follow what he said is an easy formula.
"We have to quit turning the football over, quit making penalties," Nutter said. "If we don't, Mohawk will beat us."
at Upper Sandusky
Records: Buckeye Central, 1-4; Upper Sandusky 3-2.
Coaches: Jason Ratliff, Buckeye Central; Jake Moyer, Upper Sandusky.
Last year: Buckeye Central rolled the Rams, 27-7.
Outlook: If there is one thing that plays to the Rams' favor, it's that they've seen three spread teams already this year, including Wynford, which might most closely resemble Upper Sandusky in terms of personnel.
"It's easier for our kids to understand the concept," Ratliff said. "They have a nice spread offense and the QB is a lot better from last year and he's a good runner. He runs the offense really well."
Tylor Pritchard has rushed for 478 yards and seven scores while throwing for another 618 and five more touchdowns.
Moyer said BC brings a stout offensive challenge as well in Michael Adkins, who has 634 yards rushing (fourth in the NCC) and eight touchdowns.
"They do have a good running back and he's a tough, tough runner," Moyer said. "Even though they lost a lot of kids off their offensive line, they're blocking pretty well. They're much more of a running team than they were last year."
And that plays to the Rams' favor in Moyer's opinion.
"I think we're pretty decent (against the run)," Moyer said. "I think we came of age last week against a good Ontario team and defensive line played very well. So hopefully there's a carryover."
It's the play of the lines that concerns Ratliff the most.
"They were very young last year and they have a lot of kids back with a lot of experience and they're very physical and get after you on both sides of the football," he said. "One of the things that impressed me is their offensive and defensive lines. They really get after it and they're a really physical team."
Moyer said his team can't have any more letdowns going forward.
"We better be ready because it's our homecoming and we don't want to be embarrassed at our homecoming," Moyer said. "We need that self confidence and we're starting to see some of that self confidence."
at North Baltimore
Records: Seneca East, 3-2, 0-2; North Baltimore, 1-4, 0-2.
Coaches: Ed Phillips, Seneca East; Dino Woodruff, North Baltimore.
Last year: Seneca East cruised past the Tigers, 41-6.
Outlook: It would be easy to get hung up on the last two weeks: close losses to St. Joseph and Calvert.
"They're carbon copies of one another. We played really well at times against two really good football teams," Phillips said. "But when it's all said and done, they made the plays they had to to win. Are we frustrated? Yes, we're a couple plays away from being 5-0. If we make a couple plays, we're at the other end of the stick."
But he said it's important that these two losses don't snowball into a big losing streak.
"I talked the kids on Monday about where we are and we've had the best two practices we've had all year," Phillips said. "When it's tough and you have adversity, you have to respond. After those two practices, I feel really good about our football team."
If Seneca East is going to stop the skid, they'll have to stop a whale of running back, Dalton Ishmael.
"He's been playing out there forever," Phillips said. "He's a good football player and they have some playmakers on their team."
Ishmael has rushed for 392 yards and five touchdowns on the season. But Phillips said it's more than Ishmael Seneca East have to worry about.
"We had the Hopewell-Loudon and Mohawk films and in the first quarter, they started fast against them," Phillips said of North Baltimore. "Their biggest problem is they lack depth. But they have some quality guys. We have to take care of the football and eliminate some basic mistakes and not putting us in a hole on first down."
2012: Woodmore 2-3, 0-2; Fostoria, 0-5, 0-2.
Coaches: Britton Devier, Woodmore; Jim Kelly, Fostoria.
Last year: Fostoria, 37-16.
Outlook: They both come in seeking their first Northern Buckeye Conference win, but Fostoria enters missing more than a conference win.
Seniors Adonis Cousin and Keanu Crowe are both hobbled by injuries, leaving the Redmen linebacking corps without one starter (Cousin) for sure and possibly without both.
"I think Keanu's been averaging eight to 10 tackles a game and Adonis has been getting around 11, so that's 20 tackles we've got to be making up," Kelly said.
"That hurts, no doubt," he said.
Cousin's absence will also be felt on offense, though not as deeply. He and Dom Fuller have been splitting time at quarterback for the past couple weeks, giving a slowly improving FHS offense more options.
With Cousin's high ankle sprain keeping him out, Fuller will take over the QB duties with David Cook and junior varsity player Deandre Cannon backing him up.
But there is good news on the injury front for the Redmen, who get most of what had been a 14-man group of walking wounded back for Friday.
"This week we get guys back. Just having those guys with a full week of practice will be good," Kelly said.
"I think we feel good about our ability to get it going this week," he said.
Kelly said they'll need to also do that on defense because of what quarterback Jake Matweijczyk brings the Wildcats.
"Their quarterback is not a big kid, but he plays bigger. He runs the ball real well. That concerns us," he said. "They've got a nice group of receivers. They've been brought up in that system and they know it really well.
"That whole offense is a major concern," he said.
Fremont St. Joe
2012: Fremont St. Joe 4-1, 2-0; Lakota 2-3, 0-2.?
Coaches: Scott Knisely, St. Joe; Dave Vodika, Lakota.
L?ast year: St. Joe 44, Lakota 24.
O?utlook: The challenge is certainly easy to see.
The MAL's top team visits one still searching for a league win, and reversing that trend, even for an improving team, is far from easy.?I think we're moving in a good direction," Vodika said, "but we've got to keep looking at this as a Friday night, a fun opportunity, and [a] what do we have to lose [situation]? They're the front-runners and we're at the bottom, so we're going to try to play a little bit more loose and take some chances and do some things."
The danger, though, comes from St. Joe taking advantage of that approach.
Zack Yeckley leads the MAL with 1,290 yards passing and 15 TD tosses in only five games. Luke Stierwalt (28-450) and Jordan Sessler (27-399) lead the MAL in receptions, with Stierwalt having the most receiving yards. Also, Marcus Kerr averages 91.2 yards rushing per game.
That's good enough to have St. Joe atop the league standings in overall passing (258 ypg) and overall offense (397.4 ypg).
Even St. Joe's weakness is strong, Vodika said. The Crimson Streaks enter last in the league in rushing (139.4 ypg), but Vodika said the run game is far from inept and stopping any part of St. Joe's offense will be difficult.
"We're making a real effort to try to get as much speed as we have on the field. There's no secret there, they're going to get back and they're going to chuck it. But watching the Carey film, they can load it up and run, too," he said.
"They're clicking now. Offensively, they're moving the ball well. They beat two biggies, with Seneca East and Carey," Vodika said. "They've moved up to the front-runner right now, so I'm very impressed with their whole group; they're strong and big and they catch the ball well."
And that will pose a challenge for Lakota.
The Raiders are sixth against the run (192.8 ypg) in the MAL, but fourth against the pass (135.6 ypg) and sixth in overall defense (328.4 ypg).?
"We've got a lot of guys on defense that didn't play before and we've got to take some chances and do some things, go out and have fun," Vodika said. "We're looking forward to it.
"Our defense is young. We've got to come out," he said. "The one thing I told them today, 'Let's not play on our heels, let's play on our toes. Let's go out and have some fun and do what we can.'"
Meanwhile, Lakota's offense is almost opposite that of St. Joe. The Raiders are third when it comes to rushing the ball (205.8 ypg), with Tiger Jaso (87.8 ypg) and Kody Brewer (74 ypg) accounting for a combined 161.8 rushing yards.
However, Lakota is last when it comes to passing (158 ypg), and it faces a defense allowing only 143.6 yards on the ground and another 143 through the air.
"We've got to nose up and not back off. This week's a huge challenge that way," Vodika said. "They're a good, big, physical and well-coached team, so it's a challenge for us. But, hey, if we want to grow, we've got to take another step."
- By The A-T sports Staff