North Union quarterback, Preston Crabtree (22) rushes toward the goal line during last week’s game at Jonathan Alder. The Wildcats will open Central Buckeye Conference divisional play against Indian Lake on Friday. (Journal-Tribune photo by Sam Dillon)
The Wildcat football team has had some weeks it would rather forget,.
Howevear, with Central Buckeye Conference teams entering into their divisional schedules, North Union head coach Nick Hajjar said it gives the team something to focus on as they attempt to get their season back on track.
“I think one of the nice things about how the CBC sets up the league is divisional play starts this week,” he said. “It doesn’t mean the first five weren’t important, but it kind of gives you a fresh start moving forward into divisional play.”
The challenge for the Cats entering the second half of the regular season schedule is the four-time Mad River Division champs Indian Lake on Friday.
The Lakers won the division title in 2015, 2016 and 2017 outright and shared the title in 2018 in a three-way tie.
“No matter how they have gotten there, these guys have been league champs and we’ve got them the first game at our place,” said Hajjar. “It should be another big challenge with a great atmosphere.”
NU’s challenge will come from a Laker offense that has been averaging more than 35 points per game.
The bulk of the offense has come from a dual-threat quarterback who finds himself in the top three in the conference of both passing and rushing stats.
Clay Jacobs has tallied more than 1,400 yards of combined offense and helps keep Indian Lake balanced, according to Hajjar.
If Jacobs can’t get it done with his feet, he also has some deep targets who the Wildcat secondary will have to keep in check.
“They have some receivers who statistically in the league are high up and they make tough catches,” Hajjar said.
Austin Parker finds himself in second place in the CBC receiving yards with 327.
Hajjar said the Laker defense is a little less defined.
“Defensively, I think they want to be a 3-4 team,” he said. “However, structurally based upon who they playing, they are well-coached enough to get into different fronts.
“We will see some four-man fronts and some pressure with cover four behind it.”
Even with all of the different fronts, the Lakers have solid tacklers in Luke Jackson, Lane Mefford and Dustin Franks.
They have combined for 139 tackles.
Hajjar said the Indian Lake defensive quickly gets to the ball.
“They run to the ball well,” he said. “They are disciplined and are not out of gaps.”
With the tall order ahead of them and tough weeks behind, Hajjar said the Cats’ setbacks do not define them.
“One of the best ways to get that bad taste out of your mouth is to get right back to work,” Hajjar said. “I think that is what we are going to do. The last three weeks, that is who we were, but is doesn’t define us as we move forward.”
Kick-off is scheduled for 7 p.m. at North Union High School.
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