Centerburg at East Knox
Centerburg (3-1, 0-1) tried a season-high 40 passes in a Week 4 loss to Johnstown, gaining 202 yards. Unfortunately, the Johnnies responded with senior running back Ross Franklin and QB Matt Smith, each of whom ran for 180 yards. The Trojans’ quarterback combo of Travis Poland and Tyler Stoyle has had a lot of success, especially in finding wideout Logan McGovern, who has 24 catches for 273 yards so far. If RB Jason Ratliff can give Centerburg some good yardage, the team won’t have to rely so much on its aerial game.
East Knox (0-4, 0-1) gave up a season-low 14 points to Utica on Friday night, but had five turnovers and could only manage seven points of offense in the loss. QB Dylan Wears has been the lone bright spot on the Bulldogs’ offense, gaining nearly 135 yards of the team’s 185 yards-per-game. Wears might run more if Cody Howard continues at quarterback, but it will be hard for East Knox to get into any game, if its production at quarterback (one touchdown, eight interceptions) continues as it has.
Elgin at Highland
Highland (1-3, 1-2) ran into its second tough MOAC opponent of the season, league-leading Pleasant, in Week 4. Again, the Scots had trouble containing the running game, as Holden Rosebrough ran for 125 yards on 14 carries. Highland QB Josh Gahm was a gamer, coming back from a shoulder injury to pass for 161 yards, but threw two picks and completed less than 50 percent of his passes. Hayden Mailey will have to improve on his 35 yard performance against the Spartans to take the load off Gahm’s shoulder(s).
Elgin (1-3, 0-3) has three consecutive losses after a Week 1 win over Bucyrus, falling to River Valley, Mount Gilead and Cardington. Last week, the Comets scored only one offensive touchdown, with one touchdown coming on a fumble in the end zone. The Pirates’ Blair Wolcott rushed for 278 yards last week, so stopping the run will be a priority. Elgin has three of the MOAC’s top five tacklers, which doesn’t say much for the team’s offense. Highland may not have to pass this week, if its running game can keep the Comets off the field.
Utica at Northridge
Utica (1-3, 1-0) earned its first victory of the season over East Knox in Week 4, using a nice balance of passing and running to gain 263 yards of offense. Even so, the defense gave up more yards, 305, than the offense gained, but those big plays were annulled by five East Knox turnovers. Travis Baldwin has gained nearly 400 yards rushing and receiving, and will again be a focus of the offense. How the defense responds to one of the MBC’s top running backs, Northridge’s Jacob Burke, will be something to watch for.
Northridge (3-1, 0-1) entered league play with a 3-0 record, but were humbled by Fredericktown in a 58-7 loss. Burke, who ran for over 600 yards through the first three weeks, was held to a mere 26 yards on 15 carries, and he must get it going against Utica for the Vikings to have a shot. QB Gavin Kyle played catch only with running back Josh Harbaugh (5 catches, 44 yards) against the Freddies, so the running game will be the primary focus of the offense. On defense, stopping Clay Rowley and Baldwin will be key.