The Northern State Conference is on the line as Class 2A No. 5 Bremen hosts Class 3A No. 9 John Glenn, while Plymouth’s players have something to prove as they travel to NorthWood, and Triton looks to keep its positive momentum rolling as it hosts Class 3A 10th-ranked Jimtown in the last week of the regular season.
No one needs to tell either the Lions (8-0, 6-0 NSC) or the Falcons (7-1, 5-1 NSC) what’s on the line this week. Both senior-heavy teams remember last year’s contest at Glenn, when Bremen handed its hosts a 33-28 defeat to upset any hopes the Falcons had of a share of their first NSC title in nearly three decades.
Glenn finds itself in a similar situation to last year’s game as its enters the regular-season finale with just one conference defeat — a 14-13 heartbreaker to Jimtown in Week 2 — while Bremen is in slightly less familiar territory looking to cap off an undefeated regular season with the outright conference crown, the team’s first NSC championship since its state runner-up season in 1995.
“We’re home against John Glenn, and it’s for the outright NSC championship,” said Bremen Head Football Coach Bob Holmes. “The kids are working hard this week, and that’s what they want to accomplish — an undefeated season, a conference championship on Senior Night. You can’t ask for much more in the regular season. There’s a lot at stake for us. We know that John Glenn’s coming to play off a tough game, and they want a piece of this conference championship also.”
“I’m proud of the way that our guys have been the whole season,” said Glenn coach Justin Bogunia. “Their comeback, that second game of the season was a high-stakes game for a Week 2 game, and they were heart-broken with that one-point loss to Jimtown. For them to come back and put that aside I thought showed a lot of character. With that being said, you find yourself in the situation of playing for a conference championship, which is one of the main goals these guys have had coming into this season. They put themselves right there in position to get a piece of that, anyway.”
Both Indiana Football Coaches Association top 10 teams boast some high-powered offenses. Bremen has put up 320 points in the first eight weeks of the season, while the Falcons have racked up 337 points against opponents. Given that fact, both coaches say ball control is going to be crucial to Friday’s outcome.
“This is one of those weeks where we can help ourselves by having our offense on the field,” said Holmes. “That’s our best defense is by not allowing Josh Anderson and that offense to be on the field at any moment.”
“For us to just sustain drives and keep the ball on offense is a pretty big key,” Bogunia said. “They have a pretty high-powered offense as well and can put us some points, so for us to keep the ball out of their hands and to put points on the board is a big key this Friday.”
While Bremen enters Friday’s game unbeaten and Glenn is on a six-game win streak, Plymouth (3-5, 2-4 NLC) finds itself trying to put the brakes on a four-game skid as it hits the road for NorthWood (5-3, 3-3 NLC). The Rockies have one chance to right the ship before starting sectional play next week, and they’re anxious to prove their doubters wrong against the Sectional 11, Northern Lakes Conference-rival Panthers.
“At this point, again, in the last week of the regular season and knowing what your sectional draw is, you’re really just trying to get back to playing fundamental, sound football,” said Plymouth coach John Barron. “Obviously, we’ve had our share of concerns and problems that we’ve had to deal with, but the thing that I like about our kids is that they’ve been very resilient. Although the scoreboard hasn’t indicated it, we’ve played some really good football at times. I know that our guys are pretty frustrated, and they want to prove to themselves and everybody else that they’re good football players and that Plymouth has a good football team. We’ve had a very good week, our kids have the right attitudes, and we’re just moving forward. We’re taking everything from the past and trying to learn from it and get ready to play a really good football team this Friday.”
Barron downplayed the tournament momentum question in the final week of the regular season but said it’s important for his team to put together a full 48 minutes of sound football after some poor spells in the last four weeks.
“I’m asked that every year about playing Week 9 and how important is Week 9 going into the first week of the playoffs. Our Week 9 has always been NorthWood, and NorthWood is a team that’s very good every year so it’s a tough question for the Plymouth coach because that’s a challenge,” said Barron. “We haven’t beaten NorthWood very much over the 22 years I’ve been here. Especially at Jim Andrews Field, they’re going to play hard, but with all that being said to me it’s just another football game. It’s a game that, after the series of losses that we’ve had, yeah, it really boils down to our guys trying to concentrate and put four quarters together. Our biggest problem this year has been turnovers. We’ve fumbled the ball 26 times this year and have lost 17 of them. Our third quarter statistics are horrible; we’ve given up way too many points in the second half. So those are things that we’ve tried to concentrate on and just talk the kids through.
“In a week, our record’s going to be 0-0 just like everybody else, but we sure would like to play well Friday.”
Like Plymouth, Triton has been battling with some inexperience throughout the season, and it took the Trojans (2-6, 2-4 NSC) six weeks to break into the win column with an NSC victory against LaVille. They followed up with another conference win on the road at Knox last week and look to keep the good times rolling at home against their third state-ranked foe this season in Jimtown (6-2, 5-1 NSC).
“That’s one thing with this group, they’ve believed from the start,” said Triton head coach Rodney Younis. “We’ve had great weeks of practice. Since the beginning, they’ve come back to work every week and they just keep working on the fundamentals and it’s nice that they were able to get rewarded with those two wins. You put the work in, you want to see something out of it. That was huge for us.”
Also like Plymouth, Triton has been battling turnovers this season. Eliminating those miscues and speed of play are going to be two keys against the Jimmies this week.
“A big key like every week is turnovers,” Younis said. “We want to make sure that we’re taking care of the football. Defensively, we’ve got to play physical. Jimtown’s very, very fast. This may be the fastest team we’ve played this year just as far as team speed goes. Their offensive line gets off the ball really well and gets to that next level really quick, so we just have to make sure that we match that intensity and step into our gaps and make play good, sound football.”
Meanwhile, in other area action this week, Culver Military Academy (3-5) is riding high after a convincing 42-21 defeat of Class A, formerly fifth-ranked Sheridan last week as the Eagles hit the road for Fairfield (4-4), while Culver (4-4, 3-3 NSC) seeks to bounce back from its second straight defeat at winless LaVille (0-8, 0-6 NSC).