The games always get more difficult when area high school football teams move into conference play.
Just ask those who pick the games.
Blade staff writers Steve Junga and Mark Monroe were a modest 6-4 with their picks in Week 4 of the campaign, the opening week of conference action for most schools, while guest picker Tyson Harder, the former Start coach, was just 5-5.
That leaves Junga, Monroe, and the coaches all at 26-14 on the season. Yes, just like on the field, it’s shaping up to be quite a race.
This week, former Holgate, Ada, Hilltop, Delta, Genoa, and Swanton — yes, we think we got them all — coach Mike Vicars is the guest picker as the area boasts some intriguing matchups.
Surprising Scott will try to stay unbeaten, while the TRAC and NLL have key games that will help determine the league races. And the two games of the week involve two teams now voted No. 1 in the state for the first time ever — Genoa welcomes upstart Otsego for an NBC matchup while top-ranked McComb faces Arlington in a meeting of two ranked teams in Division VII.
Scott (4-0) at Huron (3-1): The visiting Bulldogs are 4-0 for the first time since starting 5-0 in 1986, but they have between teams that are a combined 2-14 and have been outscored collectively by an average of 32-8 per game. The host Tigers’ only loss is to 4-0 Sandusky, which is ranked No. 3 in the state in D-III.
Junga: Huron, 28-20
Monroe: Huron, 24-21
Vicars: Huron, 28-27
Findlay (1-3) vs. St. Francis (3-1) at UT: The records are deceiving in this TRAC test. Findlay’s Trojans have lost twice in overtime, and last week were edged 43-42 by Fremont Ross. The host Knights, with a strong ground attack led by Malachi Wyse, have already won more games than they did the prior two seasons combined (2-18). St. Francis was 5-35 from 2014-17 but appears back on track under second-year coach Dan Chipka.
Junga: Findlay, 32-29
Monroe: St. Francis, 42-41
Vicars: St. Francis 28-23
St. John's (2-2) at Fremont Ross (2-2): Coming off a 43-42 win over Findlay, Ross may have a small edge in this interesting TRAC matchup because of the home field. But the Little Giants will have to find a way to slow the Titans’ passing attack triggered by sophomore QB Brady Lichtenberg, and his talented receiving corps led by Dimitri Mitsopoulos.
Junga: Fremont Ross, 30-28
Monroe: St. John's, 35-30
Vicars: St John’s 42-41
Anthony Wayne (4-0) at Bowling Green (2-2): The host Bobcats could keep this close with their home-field edge, where BG already has beaten St. John’s and Otsego. But AW’s Generals have topped 30 points in every game and appear to be clicking on all cylinders in their quest of a repeat NLL title, and another deep playoff run like their 2016 trek to the D-II state semifinals.
Junga: Anthony Wayne, 35-21
Monroe: Anthony Wayne, 38-27
Vicars: Anthony Wayne, 42-21
Springfield (3-1) at Northview (3-1): Last season, a miracle finish on the road gave the Wildcats a last-second upset victory at Springfield. The Blue Devils look to avenge that defeat behind senior QB A.J. Gucciardo, and one of the area’s best aerial attacks. Northview has allowed a total of 26 points in its last three games, all wins, while Springfield averages 40.0 points per game.
Junga: Springfield, 31-21
Monroe: Springfield, 34-23
Vicars: Springfield, 35-28
Otsego (3-1) at Genoa (4-0): The host Comets are ranked No. 1 in the state (in D-V) for the first time in school history, but were knocked off last year at Otsego. Comets coach Paul Patterson knows the rankings will increase the size of the target on his team’s back. Genoa’s ground attack has been impressive, while the Knights counter with talented senior QB Mitchell Downs.
Junga: Genoa, 33-24
Monroe: Genoa, 40-28
Vicars: Genoa, 49-48
Swanton (2-2) at Evergreen (2-2): The visiting Bulldogs have won five straight times in NWOAL play against Evergreen, outscoring the Vikings by an average score of 43-15 in that span. But Evergreen is much improved thanks in part to NWOAL leading rusher Hunter VanWert and looks poised to end the streak.
Junga: Evergreen, 29-22
Monroe: Evergreen, 31-23
Vicars: Evergreen, 31-24
McComb (4-0) at Arlington (4-0): The game of the night in Northwest Ohio, with two of the Blanchard Valley Conference four remaining 4-0 teams squaring off. Behind the 1-2 running punch of Tanner Schroeder and Kheaghan Loe, McComb is ranked No. 1 in the state (in D-VII) for the first time in school history. The host Red Devils are ranked No. 6 in D-VII and have outscored foes by an average of 37-9.
Junga: McComb, 34-24
Monroe: McComb, 29-18
Vicars: McComb, 49-35
Wauseon (1-3) at Bryan (3-1): The visiting Indians, the preseason pick to finish second in the NWOAL, have been struggled mightily and are without suspended coach Travis Cooper. The Golden Bears are coming off an impressive 41-0 thumping of Swanton, and look to continue their momentum.
Junga: Bryan, 23-13
Monroe: Bryan, 37-20
Vicars: Bryan, 23-13
Clyde (2-2) at Port Clinton (2-2): The host Redskins upset Clyde 27-21 to earn an SBC title share in 2016, but the Fliers pounded PC 49-3 last season. Now in different SBC divisions, this one is more about building playoff points than shaping a conference championship run.
Junga: Clyde, 27-21
Monroe: Clyde, 31-27
Vicars: Clyde, 28-21
Don’t like the picks?
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