MAC Football Week 9: Marion Local Can Clinch Share of MAC Title on Friday, Minster-Versailles Has Been Battle in Recent Years

Minster Head Coach Geron Stokes and his Wildcats can take another step toward the playoffs. (Staff Photo/Brian Smith)
Staff Writer

Marion Local is closing in on a Midwest Athletic Conference title and St. Henry is the last big hurdle in the way of the Flyers. Meanwhile elsewhere in the conference in Week 8, there are playoff connotations in all the other four match-ups.

If the season ended today, six of the MAC’s 10 teams would be in the playoffs. Fort Recovery is sitting two spots out of a spot in Region 24.

Anna at Coldwater
Despite a loss to power Marion Local, Anna has passed every test this season. Blowout non-conference victories, tests from St. John’s and St. Henry included. Now atop Region 20 with two games to go, a pair of programs that have been mainstays at state the past few seasons will challenge the Rockets. First up are the Coldwater Cavaliers, who play host to Anna on Friday night. If Chip Otten’s squad wins their final two games, he’ll reach the 100-win mark as head coach of Coldwater. Otten has been head coach since 2010 when he took over for the late John Reed. Otten entered this season with an 88 percent winning percentage and a 92-13 record with three MAC titles, seven regional titles and four state championships. Other Coldwater coaches to reach the 100-win plateau are Paul Ponzuric (109-88 from years 1948-1970) and Reed, who went 168-31 from 1995 to 2009, according to CavFootball.com.

Marion Local at St. Henry
This is likely the last chance for a MAC team to knock off the Marion Local Flyers in the regular season. Marion Local is 8-0 and seems to be peaking at the right time. The biggest road block to a perfect 10-0 year? A St. Henry team that has proven to be as good as any team in the conference. Only a three-point loss and two-point loss to Coldwater and Anna have blemished the Redskins’ record. A win would boost St. Henry’s playoff chances. The Redskins are currently in seventh place in the difficult Region 24 points standings. This one could be a playoff game preview if the Redskins can find a way to get into the postseason for the second straight season. Marion Local defeated St. Henry 22-0 in a regional semifinal game last November.

Versailles at Minster
Sure, Minster has won seven straight games against Versailles, so it might be easy to presume they’ve dominated the series in recent years. While that’s true in the win-loss column, most of them have been quite the battle. The 2016 encounter is a prime example. Minster emerged with a 15-12 win. The year before? An eight point win on the road. In 2013, the two teams played until Minster finally emerged in double overtime for a 28-21 win. In fact, six of the last eight meetings between the teams have been decided by one possession — Minster’s two dominating 2014 wins that included a playoff romp  being the exception. The Tigers are the verge of being eliminated from the Division V, Region 20 playoffs, sitting in 15th place with a 3-5 record in a region that is led by fellow MAC squad Anna. Versailles began the year with an impressive 36-7 win over Celina but dropped four straight games in painful fashion. They fell to a good Jefferson team by a touchdown, to St. John’s in triple overtime and to Marion Local by just 10 points. They perked up their playoff hopes with an impressive 35-14 win over Fort Recovery and a 36-8 win over Parkway, but last week’s 24-10 loss at home to Coldwater dealt what looks like a fatal blow to the Tigers’ postseason hopes.

St. John’s at Parkway
If Division VI, Region 24 is as unforgiving as they come for MAC teams hoping to make the playoffs, Division VII, Region 28 leaves a little more leeway for squads like Minster and St. John’s. At 4-4, the St. John’s Blue Jays are still in position to host a home playoff game. The Blue Jays dropped their second straight game in 34-7 fashion to St. Henry last Friday night to fall to .500 on the season and 2-4 in the MAC. A trip to a scuffling Parkway and a home game against ever-tough Coldwater remains on the docket for the Blue Jays.

Fort Recovery at New Bremen
The Cardinals are a much-improved team, having won three games and been a thorn in the side of some good teams early in games, including an eight-point loss at state-ranked Anna and in the early going against a playoff hopeful in Minster last Friday night. They’ll hope to finally spring one of those upsets they’ve been gunning for on Friday when they host Fort Recovery. The Indians are playing for their playoff lives after losing to Marion Local 21-10 last week to fall to 4-4 on the season. They’re currently two spots out of a playoff position in Region 24.