Prep games to watch: Week 7 gets October started on right foot

We’ve rounded the corner, and now we’re heading into the home stretch of high school football. It’s hard to believe, but by the end of this month, we’ll be done with the regular season and stepping into the postseason.

But let’s not get ahead of ourselves just yet — there’s plenty of meaningful football yet to be played. Every league race is still up for grabs, and no one is technically eliminated from postseason play. Week 7 has a handful of games which can go a long way towards deciding who will be playing in November and who will be getting ready for winter sports.

Here are the five best games of Week 7.

1. St. John’s (4-2, 2-1 TRAC) at Findlay (3-3, 2-1 TRAC)

Both of these programs are riding two-game winning streaks heading into this matchup in the Flag City, and with each still having a game against TRAC-leader Central Catholic yet to come, the winner puts itself in a prime spot. St. John’s has ridden a breakout season from its sophomore quarterback Braydon Lichtenberg this year; he leads the TRAC with more than 1,800 passing yards and 15 touchdowns. And don’t forget about do-everything receiver Dimitrios Mitsopoulas, who has nine TDs and leads the league with more than 700 receiving yards. Meanwhile, Findlay is playing its second game without quarterback Tanner Rickle, who was injured against St. Francis. Pat Dillon, a 6-foot-2 junior who took over for Rickle, went 16-of-30 for 168 yards in last week’s win over Clay, while the Trojans rushing attack went for 194 yards.

Playoff picture: St. John’s is on the inside in Division II, Region 6, sitting in seventh place. This will be the Titans final chance to pick up any real computer points before a Week 10 showdown with Central Catholic. Findlay comes in ranked tenth in Division I, Region 2, but in addition to the Titans, the Trojans can make up some ground with games against Whitmer and Central Catholic still to come.

Springfield’s Devin Johnson, left, leads the NLL with 823 receiving yards.

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2. Napoleon (4-2, 3-0 NLL) at Springfield (5-1, 3-0 NLL)

Since starting the season 0-2 with losses to Defiance and Liberty Center, the Wildcats have reeled off four straight wins by an average of 17.5 points … but those wins have come against teams with a combined 6-18 record. Now comes their biggest test, a road game at powerful Springfield. The Blue Devils have won three straight games, and their last two wins have come by an average of 29 points. Quarterback A.J. Gucciardo has thrown for 1,628 yards and 20 touchdowns while completing 71 percent of his 146 passes; last week, the senior threw for 383 yards and six scores. Wideout Devin Johnson averages nearly 22 yards on his 38 catches.

Playoff picture: The Blue Devils are sitting in a good spot for the playoffs, entering this game in fifth position in Division II, Region 6. If they win out — including a Week 10 game against Anthony Wayne — there’s no reason to think Springfield couldn’t host a playoff game. Napoleon might be coming in at No. 10 in Division IV, Region 14, but the Wildcats hold their fate in their hands, with this week’s game and a Week 9 game against Anthony Wayne holding plenty of computer points.

Start football players take the field Sept. 27 against Waite.

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3. Start (2-4, 1-0 City League) at Scott (5-1, 1-0 City League)

Last week, Start handed Waite its second loss of the season; could the Spartans do it again this week against Scott? Anything’s possible. Start is on a three-game winning streak in the series, winning by an average score of 36-7, including last year’s 17-14 overtime win. Start’s record might not be an indication of how this game could end up — of its four losses this year, two have come by single digits. On the other hand, the Bulldogs are rolling, winning their five games by a margin of 15 points. After putting up 234 yards last week, Scott quarterback became the first City League QB to top 1,000 yards this season, coming into Week 7 with 1,216 yards and nine TDs.

Playoff picture: Along with Waite, Scott holds the City League’s best chance at placing a team in the playoffs; the Bulldogs are 11th in Division III, Region 10. The winner of next week’s Scott-Waite game could have a great chance to advance to November. Start faces a much more difficult challenge, coming into the week ranked 13th in Division I, Region 2.

4. Otsego (4-2, 2-1 NBC) at Eastwood (4-2, 2-1 NBC)

While Genoa appears to be running away with the NBC race, don’t count out the Eagles, who only have one league loss and face the Comets in Week 9. But to get there with a chance to defend its title, Eastwood must take care of business against the Knights. Along with Eastwood, Otsego is one of four NBC teams coming into Week 7 with matching 2-1 league records (Rossford and Lake are the others). As usual, the Eagles will put their trust in the running game — Justin Pickerel (118 rushes, 715 yards, 11 TDs) and Jaden Rayford (74-779-7) are combined to rush for 292 yards and five TDs last week. The Knights will put the ball in the air, with quarterback Mitchell Downs second in the NBC at 1,174 passing yards and 16 TDs and receiver Austin Meier second as well, with 549 yards and an 18.9 yards per catch average.

Playoff picture: Both teams need a lot of help to get into the playoffs in Division V, Region 18 — Otsego comes in at No. 13, and Eastwood is one spot behind. Eastwood is in the better spot, just based upon who it has yet to play, with games against Otsego, Lake, and Genoa on the docket.

WATCH: Whiteford moves to 6-0 with blowout win over Morenci

5. Sand Creek (4-2, 3-1 Tri-County Conference) at Whiteford (6-0, 4-0 Tri-County Conference)

No one has even come close to touching the Bobcats this year — they have outscored their opponents 321-26, and the closest result was a 46-12 win over Petersburg-Summerfield. Could Sand Creek at least make a game of this one? Sand Creek is putting up 34.6 points per game, and that includes a Week 1 shutout loss at undefeated Reading. These next two weeks should provide the biggest tests of the year for Whiteford, with the game against Sand Creek backed up with one against 5-1 Clinton, which shares the Tri-County lead with the Bobcats. Whiteford is rolling, though — last week, it averaged 12.8 yards per rush as a team.

Playoff picture: Nothing to worry about for Whiteford — the Bobcats clinched their seventh straight playoff berth with last week’s win.

Contact Jeremy Schneider at jschneider@theblade.com, 419-724-6082, or on Twitter @j1schneider.


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