Chris Cox-Wilson of North Union sacks the Galion quarterback during last week’s football game, which the Wildcats won, 68-26. This week, the Cats will face a stiff challenge in Buckeye Valley.
Last week, North Union’s football team had one thought on its mind . . . win.
The Wildcats were able to do that with ease, rolling past Galion, 68-26.
“That was our goal for the week,” said NU head coach Nick Hajjar. “We talked last week about re-establishing our goals and our goal for the week was to try and get a win at home no matter how we did it by finding a way. It was extra-special being Homecoming. For us to play well in front of them (the home crowd) was important.”
That was last week.
This week, NU will face a much stiffer opponent in Buckeye Valley. The Barons will bring a 5-3 record to Richwood and they have leaders in nearly every offensive category.
Hajjar realizes the game will be a challenge, but hopes that the momentum of the Wildcats’ (4-4) first home win will help them going into Friday.
“Hopefully we can come out and pick up where we left off,” he said. “The type of opponent and the different challenges they bring to us is going to be completely different than Galion.”
Those differences will be seen in the offense that will take the field for the Barons. They will field a pro-style offense that likes to run the football for a good reason.
“No. 5 (Trent Davies) is the focal point of their offense,” Hajjar said. “They get him the ball in a bunch of different ways.”
Davies is leading the Mid Ohio Athletic Conference in rushing with 997 yards and 10 touchdowns. He is also a downfield threat with 13 receptions for 226 yards and one TD.
Quarterback Grant Owens is also leading the league in passing with 101 completions for 1,237 yards and 10 TDs.
Owens can thank Joey Verdes for his 64 percent completion mark. Verdes is also leading the league with 40 receptions for 538 yards and three touchdowns.
“They put him in the slot and get it to him quickly on bubbles and hitches,” Hajjar said. “He is smooth and that is coupled with a really big offensive line and other solid players around them.”
The Barons have a lot of talented weapons that the Cats will have to keep an eye on. Simple put, “they are a good football team offensively,” Hajjar said.
On defense, the Barons will employ a tactic that Hajjar is very comfortable with this season.
“It’s the same old, same old 4-4 cover three,” Hajjar said with a smile. “At times it will look like a 6-2 and they are going to pack the box with a bunch of big bodies.”
Verdes will also terrorize the secondary as he is at the top of the pack with three picks for 47 yards. He will be joined by what Hajjar calls “three long-range type of defensive backs. When the ball is in the air, they can make some plays.”
Hajjar realizes the Barons, “are going to make us earn it (win).”
The Wildcats are prepared for the uphill battle and their coach says it all starts with a belief.
“We talked to our kids last week about finishing strong and this is another opportunity to continue to push to the finish line,” Hajjar said. “This is a team that we have played the last couple of years and they have been tight games. We expect nothing less. It is going to be a battle. They’re a physical football team and we have proven ourselves to be a physical team. It should be a fun game.”
Both teams are vying for a post-season berth as both are sitting in 14th place in their respective regions. Winning out the season is each team’s best hope of making it into the top eight.
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