|BG, Otsego renew rivalry (09-12-13)|
|Written by THOMAS SCHMELTZ Sentinel Sports Writer|
|Thursday, 12 September 2013 09:10|
Last fall, the news came that Bowling Green and Otsego had decided to renew their football rivalry.
Now, the wait is over.
Week 3 of the high school football season marks the first time the Bobcats and Knights will square off since 2007, when BG was a 35-23 winner.
The game, hosted by Otsego, will kickoff at 7 p.m.
"I am very excited about it," said first-year head coach Scott Seeliger. "It's something that we should have probably never stopped."
The schools, separated by just 6.1 miles, had played each other 24 times before BG ended the series after the 2007 season to play Toledo Central Catholic.
Otsego holds a 16-8 edge in the series and it also won six of the last seven meetings.
"It's great for both teams that we get back to playing each other," said Otsego head coach Matt Dzierwa, also in his first year.
"One is the distance," he added. "It's only a handful of miles so it's a natural rivalry between two local towns. That's where it starts right there."
Dzierwa recalled the rivalry from former Knights' head coach Dan Cocke's view. Dzierwa became an assistant under Cocke in 2001.
"He always stressed and made a big deal out of it and how important it was for the season ... and the community," Dzierwa said.
And now Dzierwa and Seeliger are trying to instill the strong sense of the rivalry into the minds of their respective players who have never faced each other in a high school game before Friday.
"The only thing I'm worried about is that these kids have never played Otsego," Seeliger said. "And they don't understand and they don't appreciate the rivalry and what it should be. So we've got to teach them real fast.
"This is a big game, an exciting game," he continued. "And if we don't take it the same way, we're going to end up disappointed when the night is over."
Dzierwa is facing a similar situation, although he did note that a handful of his players do recall seeing BG and Otsego play when they were younger. He made it clear that all of the coaches have been integrating the intensity of the rivalry into their players' heads all week.
"It's a big game and a big rivalry, but the kids should be ready to play," said Dzierwa.
"There was some lessons learned from last week," he added, referring to a 65-0 loss to Wayne Trace. "But when you talk about a rivalry, you shouldn't have to get up for it. Those emotions and those feelings should be there."
The matchup could prove pivotal for both squads. Both teams are 1-1 as they play their nonleague game before heading into league play next week.
Otsego opened the season with a promising 36-14 win over Evergreen before the dreadful loss to Wayne Trace last week. But the loss does not have the Knights sitting on their heels.
"We're getting better and the kids are starting to understand what we want to do and where we want to go and kind of how we want to do it," Dzierwa said.
"For us, our challenge is that we want to keep getting better and instill the attitude that we want to be a good team," he added. "We've got to play hard in order to be very good football players."
The Bobcats, on the other had, fell 13-7 to Rossford in Week 1, but followed that up with a 35-6 win over Fostoria. Seeliger said that there is still plenty of room to grow for his team.
"We've made good strides after our first game. But we didn't play as well as we're capable of (against Fostoria)," he said. " I like the intensity we played with. We were really trying to be physical. I want to take that and carry it to the next level.
"I don't want to take a step back, so I'm look for us to go out and really play physical and with emotion," Seeliger continued. "After that, whatever happens, happens."
When matching up with Otsego, Seeliger said that he is not exactly sure how to tell what the Knights are due to the contrasting styles of their first two games.
But he does know that emotions will be running high and the intensity will be extreme on Friday night in Tontogany.
"We're similar teams, trying to play hard and really learning how to win," he said. "So this game is a really big step forward."
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