Napoleon coach Tory Strock knows exactly how quickly a team’s fortunes can turn around during a high school football season.
Strock points to the Wildcats’ Week 9 opponent — Southview — as a case in point. The Cougars, who plays host to Napoleon Friday in Northern Lakes League action, have won back-to-back games over Maumee and Bowling Green (two teams with one win between them) and are suddenly back in the playoff hunt.
With two weeks remaining, and Southview and Bowling Green remaining on the Wildcats’ schedule, Strock is hoping the same can happen for Napoleon.
“We need some things to happen to help us,” said Strock about a potential postseason berth. “We still got a chance.”
Southview (4-4, 3-2 in the NLL) is ranked 13th in Division III and a win Friday could cement the Cougars’ playoff spot.
“They’re young,” said Strock. “They play a lot of sophomores. Several linemen are sophomores and they have a really nice running back (Isaac Sexton) that is a sophomore.
“They are also playing for their playoff lives,” added Strock. “That is all the motivation they need.”
Napoleon (2-6, 2-3 in the NLL) will again be playing without quarterback Blake Wolf, who injured his collarbone against Springfield two weeks ago. Senior Josh Mack is expected to take the majority of the snaps, with senior Tanner Rubinstein and sophomore Jacob Shadle also playing behind center.
“The biggest thing is the game will dictate who is in there and when,” said Strock. “We want to be ready for any situation.”
The Cats were shut out for the third time this season last week. In Napoleon’s six losses, the Cats have scored 28 points total. They have 92 in the two wins.
“We need to be more consistent,” said Strock. “We understand that we are going to be limited in what we can do in the passing game, but we are going to have to choose spots to throw the ball.”
The Wildcats have struggled this season in the red zone, including last week when they were 0 for 3 in the red zone, including a 90-yard drive that came up empty.
Liberty Center travels to Evergreen Friday for a Northwest Ohio Athletic League contest.
The Tigers (6-2, 4-1 in the NWOAL) are still in the league title hunt, but need to win out and have Archbold lose in the final two weeks.
Evergreen (2-6, 0-5) is looking for its first league win. The Vikings are being outscored 213-35 in league contests this season.
“They are a young team,” said Liberty Center coach Casey Mohler. “They want to spread you out and try to get the ball to different people. On defense, their front four are pretty active and do enough to give us problems.”
The Tigers’ Matt Orr currently leads the NWOAL in scoring with 60 points.
Patrick Henry and Delta are out of the league title hunt, but both are playing for the playoffs when the Panthers (4-4, 2-3 in the NWOAL) invade Big Red Stadium Friday to take on the Patriots (5-3, 3-2 in the NWOAL).
PH coach Bill Inselmann said Delta runs a Wing-T offense, like Liberty Center, which rushed for 323 yards against the Patriots last week.
“They have similar offenses,” said Inselmann. “One nice thing is I am glad we are playing them back-to-back. Liberty Center got us ready for their style of offense.
“(Delta) has two very good running backs, who are both over 200 pounds,” added Inselmann. “That is going to be a challenge for our defense.”
Josh Tresnan-Reighard and Jerremiah Wolford are among the top 11 scorers in the NWOAL this season, with 30 and 24 points, respectively.
Landon Johnson leads PH with 30 points — all receiving touchdowns.
The Patriots, according to Inselmann, need to be more balanced this week, as they passed the ball 39 times to just 14 rushing attempts last week.
Noah Kistner and Cody McCance will see more carries this week, as will quarterback Nash Meyer, who leads Patrick Henry with 333 yards rushing this season.
“Our offense is going to be key to the game Friday,” said Inselmann. “Their offense is predicated on running the ball, getting two to three yards and first downs. We have to get the pressure off our defense by getting some scores in the first half and getting them off their game plan.”
Kickoff for all three games is 7 p.m. Friday.