Marion Local (12-0) and the Coldwater Cavaliers (9-3) are set to meet Friday at 7:30 p.m. at Sidney Memorial Stadium in Sidney in a Division VI Regional Finals. The Flyers routed Spencerville 35-0 last week for their third straight shutout victory while Coldwater knocked off the region’s top seed, Lima Central Catholic in unbelievable fashion. These two teams know each other and the faithful from both teams have had this one circled ever since word leaked out that thanks to the controversial competitive balance dropped Coldwater down a division making this a possibility.
When Coldwater has the Football:
Like most Otten coached teams this year’s Cavaliers squad runs balanced offensive attack. They haven’t been as dominating as previous Coldwater teams These Cavs averaged 92 yards rushing a game during the regular season and were led by Ben Wenning with 489 yards and 8 touchdowns.
They have been better in the passing game where Sam Broering threw for 1,773 yards and 13 TDs. His top target is Jacob Wenning who leads the team with 801 yards and 10 TD grabs. When defenses decide to double Wenning, Broering will find Ben Wenning, who has over 400 yards and three touchdowns.
The Flyers make it their top priority to slow the opponent’s top talent – this week it will be Broering. Goodwin and company have now posted three straight shutouts, four of their 12 games, and allow under six points per game. Ben Homan (99 tackles), Henry Keller (74 tackles), and John Tangeman (73 tackles) will lead the charge against Coldwater.
When Marion Local has the football:
Nate Bruns was asked to lead a team that was turning over a roster this fall. He has assumed that leadership role and is putting together one of the more efficient season seasons (1,505 passing yards, 14 TD, and 4 INT) in all of Limaland. When Bruns drops back to pass he has done a good job of spreading the wealth, with Nick Tangeman (594 yards, 7 TD), Matt Rethman (403 yards, 5 TD) and Derek Ruhenkamp (363 yards, 2 TD).
As always, Goodwin prefers to use a balanced offense that can beat a team through the air or on the ground. When the Flyers run they count on Nolan Habodasz (890 rush yards and 12 TD) to take pressure off Bruns and soften the defense up to create passing lanes.
In what has been a strange year for a Coldwater team, the one thing that has remained constant and consistent has been the Cavalier defense. Like Marion Local the Cavaliers have no one player who catches your eye when you look over their season stats, but they are a disciplined squad who has bought into the culture that that coach Chip Otten is selling.
Brad Giere leads the defense with 91 regular season tackles and three sacks and is joined by Derek Albers who has 68 tackles, three sacks of his own, and a pair of fumbles. They will try force Marion Local to be one dimensional where they have been phenomenal. Creighton Bettinger leads the pass rush with four sacks and Ben Wenning and Jack Muhlenkamp each have two interceptions apiece.
Keys to the game:
Quite simply, who will establish their themselves first and make the other team press themselves into a mistake? If they both play “their football”, it is a toss-up. Records and stats mean nothing in this rivalry and with so much on the line, they will matter even less in this one than before.