Archbold will look for some carryover from their 38-point drubbing of Wauseon last week when they take the field against Coldwater Friday night in the opening round of the Division VI football playoffs.
The Blue Streaks (9-1), seeded third in Region 23, will welcome sixth seed Coldwater (8-2) of the highly-competitive Midwest Athletic Conference.
“The message this week will not change much from throughout the season,” said Archbold coach David Dominique on what he will tell his team ahead of week 11. “I believe the schedule we have faced (both non-league and NWOAL) has helped to prepare us for the playoffs and we are going to need to continue to improve this week. The biggest thing for us is that we need to have a great week of preparation in order to be ready for a solid football team coming to town on Friday. Most importantly, we will need to play disciplined football in order to have success against Coldwater.”
Dominique has a right to feel confident as his team comes off a regular season in which they defeated the likes of Liberty-Benton (9-1), Patrick Henry (7-3), and Wauseon (8-2), all playoff teams in their respective divisions.
The Streaks’ only blemish was a three-point defeat, 39-36, at the hands of Liberty Center (9-1) in week six.
The Cavaliers come into the contest averaging 35 points per game while allowing 16.5. They finished fourth in the MAC with a 6-2 league mark, behind Anna, Minster and Marion Local who all tied for the top spot at 7-1.
Coldwater defeated Minster 38-20, but fell soundly to both Anna and Marion Local, including a 24-0 shutout loss at Marion Local last Friday.
The Cavalier offense goes where its quarterback Jake Hemmelgarn takes them. He is both a passing and running threat, throwing for 1,788 yards and 18 touchdowns to just three interceptions, while running for 761 and 14 scores.
Their next leading rusher is Nathan Grieshop at 326 yards and six TDs.
On the outside, the Cavaliers have trio of receivers with at least 370 yards receiving and three touchdowns. Noah Miller is at the front of the pack with 39 receptions, 502 yards and four TDs. Will Broering has 25 catches on the season for a total of 371 yards and five TDs, while Zack McKibben has 28 for 370 and three TDs.
“Their QB (Hemmelgarn) is a very good athlete who has shown the ability to make plays with both his arm and his legs,” stated Dominique of the Cavalier offense. “They do a good job of spreading teams out and using their various athletes in space, so it will be critical for us to limit their big play ability. Another key for us to be successful against their dynamic offense will be to tackle well in space as they have shown the ability to score quickly.”
The Archbold offense is just as potent, averaging 38.6 points per game in seven Northwest Ohio Athletic League contests.
The Streaks will lean on their highly-effective signal caller, as sophomore DJ Newman has passed for 1,429 yards and 14 TDs to just five interceptions. He is the team’s second leading rusher as well, racking up 550 yards and seven TDs on the ground.
Noah Gomez – fresh off a near 200-yard rushing effort against Wauseon – leads the ground attack with 745 yards and 10 TDs on the season. Caleb Hogrefe has 11 rushing TDs to his credit.
Archbold’s passing attack is a bit of a three-headed monster with Antonio Cruz recording 46 catches for 725 yards and 10 scores, and Elijah Zimmerman with 18 catches for 350 yards and four scores. Add in Brandon Taylor, who started the season at quarterback, who has 19 catches for 276 yards and a pair of TDs.
“Offensively, we will need to control the line of scrimmage in order to find success against their defense. They use multiple fronts in order to try to confuse an offense so we must communicate well in order to execute our game plan,” explained Dominique.
Coldwater is no stranger to the playoffs, and great success in the playoffs, with state championship game experience as recently as 2016. In fact, the Cavaliers won four state titles in a row from 2012-15.
However, the last two seasons they have been eliminated in the regional final by league foe Marion Local.
Despite the quality resume of their opponent, Dominique says they will take the same approach to this week as they have the entire season.
“Region 23 is full of very good football teams so we knew coming into the playoffs, no matter the opponent, you better bring your best in order to move on,” he said. “Obviously, Coldwater is a very good program and they have been battle-tested throughout the season coming out of the MAC. For us, we need to continue to prepare like we have all season long and continue to improve as the week progresses.”
Reach Max Householder at 419-335-2010