Mike Hallett doesn't need to be reminded what's on the line today when Heidelberg hosts Baldwin Wallace at Mayer Field.
The No. 13 Student Princes can all but guarantee themselves a spot in the Division III football playoffs with a win over the Yellow Jackets. A win also gets them a 9-1 record, and a perfect mark at home.
But to Hallett, his team won't need those things as extra motivation.
Facing BW is enough.
"It's a big game because it's BW, man," Hallett said. "We've had some great games with them."
Hallett started his career at Heidelberg by winning his first three matchups with the Yellow Jackets, then saw BW take the last two contests.
BW is perhaps the toughest team to come to Mayer Field this season. It is 7-2, and has been ranked for much of the year in the Division III polls.
But the Yellow Jackets won't be playing for anything more than pride and the role of spoiler today. A decision handed down from the school about two weeks ago eliminated all sports from postseason games as it conducts an investigation about mistakes the school made.
"We need this game if we want to continue our season," Hallett said, "and I'm sure BW is loving the idea of playing spoiler. It will be hotly contested, I think."
Heidelberg lost to Baldwin-Wallace last season 35-20, in Berea. HU finished 8-2 and missed out on a playoff berth. It's something the players haven't forgotten, though they downplayed the revenge aspect.
"There is definitely a rivalry, we've played a lot of close games," said Heidelberg tight end Brett Weidemann. "But at the beginning of the season, we just broke every game down as one step to our goal, so, all week we've been looking at it as another step to our journey.
"It's not the BW game, it's Week 10, step 10," Weidemann said. "That's all it really is to us. There's obviously a little background there, but that's how we look at it. One step closer."
It will be a tough step to take. Baldwin Wallace features some outstanding players at the skill positions, including quarterback Ryan O'Rourke, who's thrown for more than 1,500 yards, thrown 18 touchdowns, and has completed almost 58 percent of his passes.
Hallett said that the Yellow Jackets run a high-percentage, controlled-passing game on offense.
"Not that they won't drop back in shotgun and throw the ball, but a lot of stuff that they're doing is more play-action and bootlegs and things like that," Hallett said. "Getting (O'Rourke) out in the perimeter, I think that's by design. They're pretty sharp in utilizing personnel and things like that to try to get you out of sorts."
A player who can do that is receiver Josiah Holt, who has caught 38 passes for 607 yards.
"He's good; he's fast," Hallett said. "Both those guys, (Holt and receiver Kevin Johnson) can run very well, they're both big returners for them, and (Johnson's) a good player on defense, does a great job in coverage. Those guys pose challenges, there's no doubt about it."
On defense, Hallett said B-W will often show four down lineman, shifting the number of linebackers depending on what it sees from the offense. The Yellow Jackets also occasionally show a three-man front.
"(They) give you some looks that are a little unconventional," Hallett said. "I think we've got a pretty good idea of what their pressure plans are, based on certain things we've been able to see."
Leading the BW defense is end Joe Fitch, who has 6 1/2 sacks this season. Junior middle linebacker Michael Stacchiotti has six tackles for a loss, while free safety Zach Barley has three interceptions.
Hallett is concerned about tackle Max Wagner, who has 27 tackles and three sacks.
"At the end of the day, we've got to block. If we block people, we've got a chance to be pretty successful," Hallett said.
Heidelberg receiver Robert Gray said the Student Princes are ready for the challenge, and are close to reaching their full potential.
"We still have a lot of learning and growing to do, but we're right there," said Gray, known as "Buddha" to his coaches and teammates. "As far as coming out, we've got to come out with our hair on fire, like we did against Mount. We've got to try to step on these guys, because we can't get off to a slow start against these guys."
So how confident are the HU players of victory?
"Extremely confident," Weidemann said. "There's never been any doubt at any point in the season what we can accomplish. We knew Day 1 that we could play with any team on our field, and that we could beat any team."
"Hats off to BW, they're a good football team," Gray said. "Honestly, though, this year, I feel like no team is getting in our way."
Kickoff is at 1:30 p.m.