Around the MAC: Cats, Cards look to snap skids

MINSTER — Route 66 rivals Minster and New Bremen meet at New Bremen for a homecoming match-up with the two  teams looking to get on track.

Minster (2-2, 0-2 MAC) is coming off a 26-17 loss to Marion Local last week. While the Wildcats jumped out to an early lead, the Flyers scored 19 unanswered points to take control.

Last Friday the New Bremen Cardinals (0-4, 0-2 MAC) played a good game, but turnovers once again turned the tide as the Fort Recovery Indians edged the Cardinals 34-33.

Minster’s passing attack, which struggled through the first three weeks, thrived last week.

Adam Niemeyer led the offensive attack for the Wildcats, connecting on 20-of-34 passes for 189 yards and a pair of touchdowns. More importantly, Niemeyer protected the ball and did not yield a turnover.

“A big positive last week was Adam — he threw for almost 200 yards and two touchdowns against a very good defense,” Minster coach Nate Moore said. “The offense looked good on our first drive of the game. We just needed more consistency.”

“Hopefully we can spread it out and let Adam do his thing and throw it around,” Moore said. “I think we feel pretty good that we can protect him up front. We have been good at protection all year. It’s been tough running the ball at times but we have had good protection and I think we can protect him and then that should allow Adam time to take advantage of the man coverage.”

Moore said his team will need to remain focused as it travels to New Bremen to take a Cardinals team looking for its first win of the season. Last week, Fort Recovery nipped the Cards 34-33.

“It’s going to be one of those hard-fought games,” Moore said. “I think we all know we are going to have to work hard against New Bremen.”

The series is always closely contested. Minster edged the Cardinals 27-20 last year and has won three of the last five encounters, but the game has alternated winners going back to 2006 and the road team has won three of the last four games between the rivals.

New Bremen would like nothing more than to get its first win against its rival.

The biggest thing that Messick was pleased with is that New Bremen will have all three of its running backs returning to the starting lineup.

“This is the first week that we will have all of our running backs returning besides the first week,” Messick said. “Aaron Clune didn’t practice a lot last week so we were limited in what we could do and this week we will have back at full strength and we can run our normal offensive sets.”

Clune had 48 yards last week on seven carries against the Indians and scored on a 26-yard touchdown run. Overall the Cardinals ran for 147 yards

On defense, Moore said his team is going to have to slow down the triple-option attack of the Cardinals.

“It goes through their quarterback (Elliot Westerbeck) and he is a good runner,” Moore said. “We will look for them to try to establish the run so our defense will have to contain them. They also have some receivers who can catch the ball so our corners have to play solid, assignment football against the option game.”

“Minster is a big physical team and you can tell that they have put the time in the weight room and they will get after you,” Messick said.

“The best part of Minster’s team is their offensive and defensive lines,” Messick added. “They have good running backs and they spend a lot of time in the weight room. So we will have to stop their running game and match their physicality.”

Like last year, Week 5 also is a turning point for the Wildcats. With a win this week, Minster wouldget its first win and its first win in the MAC. Last year, Minster was 0-4 going into Week 5 — when it defeated New Bremen on what would start a five-game winning streak that helped punch its playoff ticket.

“Last year, we were 0-4 and really had some stuff to do to find out what kind of a football team we were,” Moore said. “This year, we are a little more established and we know what to expect from ourselves. We played two good teams the last two weeks and we need to work our tails off this week against New Bremen.”

Kick-off is scheduled for 7:30 p.m. Friday.

NOTES: Minster is 4-2 against New Bremen in the last six games. Minster has the third-ranked defense (12.8 points per game) and the seventh-ranked offense (21 points per game) in the MAC. New Bremen has the worst defense in the MAC, giving up an average of 41.5 points per game. The Cardinals are ranked ninth in the MAC in offense, scoring 15.3 points per game.

Versailles at Coldwater

2010: Coldwater 24, Versailles 7

Streak: Coldwater has won the last six games against Versailles.

Notes: Versailles is hoping to avoid another late-season swoon and keep its early success going....Versailles is 4-0 and state-ranked while averaging more than 45 points per game against early soft competition. They’ll get their best test to date against state third-ranked Coldwater on Friday night....Versailles started the season 4-0 last year before Coldwater sent the Tigers into a tailspin that saw them lose four of their last six games and miss the playoffs....Coldwater has been impressive, the latest win a 28-7 win over St. Henry for a 16th victory in the Backyard Battle....The only blemish — a Week 1 loss to Kenton — has Coldwater sitting in eighth in the Division V, Region 20 standings, but the Cavs have plenty of opportunity to earn a home playoff game with games against Versailles, Delphos St. John’s, Marion Local and Minster left on the schedule....Versailles leads the all-time series between the schools, 28-25, but Coldwater is 8-1 against the Tigers since they joined the MAC.

Anna (2-2, 0-2) at Marion Local(3-1, 2-0)

2010: Marion Local 27, Anna 18

Streak: Marion Local has won three straight over the Rockets, dating back to a first-week playoff win in 2008.

Notes: Anna, one of the preseason favorites to contend for the MAC crown, suddenly finds itself on the ropes in terms of a conference title and a playoff berth. Losses to Coldwater and Delphos St. John's leave the Rockets winless in the MAC with the unenviable position of a must-win against a 3-1 Marion Local team finding itself. After a season-opening loss, Marion Local has reeled off three straight wins over Mount Carmel, New Bremen and Minster. After two wins over Auglaize County teams, the Flyers, who score 34 points per game and give up 11.3 points, turn their attention to Shelby County's MAC squad...Anna has not been under .500 at any point in the season since joining the MAC in 2006.

St. Henry at Delphos St. John

2010: DSJ 31, St. Henry 7

Streak: DSJ has won three straight over the Redskins.

Notes: This is one of the most even series in the MAC historically, with DSJ holding a narrow 16-15 overall lead in the series since the teams first played in 1982...St. Henry has lost six of its last nine contests in the MAC... Delphos St. John's 29-point outburst against Anna in a 29-21 win were the first gameDelphos St. John's scored more than 14 points in a game this season.

Parkway (1-3, 0-2) at Ft. Recovery (3-1, 1-1)

2010: Parkway 21, Fort Recovery 3-1

Streak: Parkway has won four of the last six meetings.

Notes: Fort Recovery comes into the game flying high with a 3-1 record after a narrow 34-33 win over New Bremen last week. The Indians are scoring 36.3 points per game — second best in the MAC. Parkway's defense is giving up more than 39 points per game this season.