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Wednesday, April 16, 2014
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Published: 10/21/2005

2 of NLL's leaders collide

BY DONALD EMMONS
BLADE SPORTS WRITER

The similarities between Northview and Rossford make tonight's Northern Lakes League contest intriguing.

Both are 6-2 overall and tied for first place in the NLL with defending champion Southview at 4-1.

With only two weeks remaining in the regular season, both are still contenders for the league championship along with Southview - the team that handed each team its only NLL loss.

Both are still in pursuit of playoff berths.

Of course, tonight's game at Northview is the No. 1 priority for the Wildcats and Bulldogs.

"It's great to still be in the hunt in Week 9," Rossford coach Chris Werbylo said. "We're still very much in it for the league and the playoffs, so obviously that's good. Now we've got to go out and finish it."

Northview coach Eric Keller anticipates a stiff challenge from Rossford.

"Rossford is a very tough and well-coached football team," Keller said. "They have a pretty good defense and they have a very good offense."

Northview, ranked No. 3 in The Blade's Division I poll, has outscored its opponents 207-102. Rossford, ranked No. 5 in The Blade's Division IV poll, has been able to outscore its competition 123-94.

"I think we're two well-matched football teams," Werbylo said. "I think it's going to come down to the last couple of minutes of the game.

"Nobody should leave early."

The Wildcats and Bulldogs figured to be competitive because they entered the season as two of the NLL's more experienced teams.

Ironically, both teams have relied heavily on a sophomore to make their offenses effective.

Casey Meridieth not only leads Northview's rushing attack, the 5-foot-7, 190-pounder is arguably the most productive running back in the league. He tops the league in scoring with 18 touchdowns and ranks second in rushing with 943 yards on 170 carries.

Sophomore Tyler Kleeberger is Rossford's quarterback. He ranks second in the NLL with 875 passing yards, completing 64 of 127 passes, seven for touchdowns.

"For sure, Northview has the best running back in the league, but I'm not saying [Kleeberger] is the best quarterback because there are some other pretty good quarterbacks playing in the league," Werbylo said.

Keeping an eye on Meridieth is the top priority for the Bulldogs, according to Werbylo.

"Meridieth is a very good running back and I can't believe he's only a sophomore," he said. "Nobody runs as hard as he does. He's got great vision and has the ability to cut back."

Werbylo said his team must limit its mistakes.

Meanwhile, it's clear that putting the football in Meridieth's hands will be a priority for the Wildcats.

"We have to control the football like we did last week [against Southview], but we have to put more points on the board," Keller said.

Contact Donald Emmons at:

demmons@theblade.com

or 419-724-6302.



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