It's playouff time
It's safe to say these two teams probably don't like each other.
Two years ago, Sentral of Fenton beat Aurelia to prevent the Bulldogs from going to the playoffs.
Last year, Sentral spoiled Aurelia's unbeaten season in the regular-season finale, only to find Aurelia return the favor a week later in the state semifinals.
The two will renew acquaintances today in the state eight-man quarterfinals at 1:30 p.m. in Aurelia.
The rivalry is brewing.
"It's kind of developed into one," Aurelia coach Myron Radke said. "Every time we play it's just a knock-down, drag-out fight. It's just a battle. Last year, to get into the finals we went up there and beat them. It was our turn to win, and we were lucky to win. It'll probably end up like that this time. Whoever wants it the most."
Sentral runs the option on offense and features a tailback who set the single-game rushing record in eight-man this season in Jeff Struecker.
The Spartans also have a 230-pound fullback in Dustin Nerem that the Bulldogs will have to worry about.
"We've got to stop their option," Radke said. "They'll run right straight at us. They've done it all year and they've been successful at it, so I doubt that they'll change. Struecker can bust a big one at anytime. They'll just lull you to sleep and then bust a big one with a pass."
Aurelia will have to play assignment football on defense to be successful in containing the Spartans' attack.
"Our big players on the line - John Fordyce, Ryan Radke, Luke Dreier and Matt Doherty - they have got to stop the dive from that big fullback," Radke said. "The quarterback and pitch man have got to be taken care of by the linebackers and secondary. It just gets to be a handful concentrating on the option and then you get burnt by the pass."
Sentral doesn't have the size on defense it had last year, but the Spartans are just as solid.
"They're not as big as last year, but they act tougher," Radke said. "They're a rangy, rugged, come-after-you type. They'll blitz, slant, hit the gaps. They'll do a number of things just to try to keep you off balance. Our linemen have got to pick up these people and make some blocks so we can open up some holes for (Chad) Husman, (Brent) Kai and (John) Ireland."
Aurelia will have to attack the Sentral defense aggressively in order to be successful moving the ball.
"If you sit and wait they're going to beat you up," Radke said. "We can't sit and wait and see what happens. We've just got to go right after them. We have to make them make the mistake. We have to move the ball on the ground and pick away with the pass every once in a while."
Valuing the football and being well-prepared will be vital for Aurelia.
"We need to take care of the football," Radke said. "I just got a feeling it's going to be a knock-down, drag-out. When we have the ball we've got to take care of it."
"They might on-side kick a lot because they have," Radke added. "We've got to be ready for that. They do a lot of reverses. We have to be ready for everything."
Radke doesn't expect the type of high-scoring shootout that has occurred in the past.
"I don't know if each team will score in the 40s, but we'll both do some scoring if we play our games," he said.