|Perrysburg, Northwood aim for league titles (10-24-13)|
|Written by THOMAS SCHMELTZ Sentinel Sports Writer|
|Thursday, 24 October 2013 09:56|
Perrysburg and Northwood's football teams are in eerily similar positions with two weeks remaining in the regular season.
Both have winning streaks of five-plus games, both are arguably playing their best football at this point, and, most importantly, both have a chance to clinch at least a share of their respective league titles with wins on Friday.
Perrysburg, 6-2 overall and 5-0 in the Northern Lakes League, can clinch a share of the title with a win over Springfield (4-4, 2-3). Northwood (6-2, 5-0) can clinch a share of the Toledo Area Athletic Conference title with a win over Ottawa Hills (3-5, 3-2).
"We've got two games left," said Perrysburg head coach Matt Kregel. "We've got to play this one as hard as we can play, and then see where things end up going. ... It's going to be a fun two weeks for us."
The Yellow Jackets enter their contest against Springfield with an offense that has erupted the last two weeks.
Perrysburg has scored 63 and 55 points, respectively, in its last two games and shows no signs of slowing down against Springfield or Maumee, its final two opponents, which have a combined record of 6-10.
Quarterback Gus Dimmerling has thrown for 1,094 yards and 11 touchdowns and has run for 670 yards and nine touchdowns, while Mark Delas appears to be back into form after missing the majority of the first three games with a shoulder injury.
Delas has ran for 227 yards and scored three touchdowns over the last two weeks after he amassed just 142 yards through the first six weeks.
"The kids are seeing success and the payoffs from practices," Kregel said of his team's confidence. "They understand that that's why they're seeing the success on Friday."
Delas is not the only 'Jacket who has been injured. Kadin Llewellyn has battled a pulled thigh muscle for the past four weeks, while Quinn Thomas, Matt Kaczinski and JP Newton are a few of the others to have been plagued with the injury bug at different times throughout the year.
"In each and every one of those cases, we've been forced to go to a backup. And whoever that is has come in and done his job and we didn't really fall off that much," Kregel said.
"The guys have picked up the slack and we've really built some depth this year."
Perrysburg can clinch the NLL title outright this week if it wins and Napoleon (5-3, 3-2) defeats Southview (5-3, 4-1). The 'Jackets haven't won an NLL championship since 2006.
Northwood is coming off of a come-from-behind 38-20 win over Toledo Christian, which is one game behind the Rangers in the TAAC.
Northwood can clinch at least a share of its third consecutive conference title by winning one of its next two games against Ottawa Hills (3-5) and Cardinal Stritch (0-8).
"We spend most of our year trying to get into a position to make the games at the end of October matter. ... We work all year to try to get us into that position," said Northwood head coach Ken James. "We've got two opportunities.
"We try to break everything into mini seasons," he added. "Now, it's a two-game season."
The Rangers, fueled by running back Dominik Bermejo's 1,169 yards rushing and 19 touchdowns and Jacob Davenport's 13 touchdowns, have scored 28 points or more in every game of their six-game winning streak.
Northwood has averaged 39 points per game this season, and has out-scored its opponents 258-112 over the last six games.
"I was confident that we would be a good football team at some point in the season. We just didn't know when because we were unsure with so many of the players," James said.
The Rangers are playing the best they've played all year, James said. But the team knows it can't overlook the final two games.
"Part of it is maturity," James said of his team not being overconfident. "But sometimes our guys are just hoping they can survive Monday practice. ... Monday is a pretty physical practice. And by doing that early in the week, we try to get their attention as to what kind of job they need to do on Friday.
"Putting that kind of pressure on them helps eliminate any thoughts of looking ahead to the end of the week or two weeks down the road," he continued. "We try to get them to focus on the here and now."
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