Dowagiac’s swarming defense is among the best the Chieftains have ever sent into the post season. (Leader photo/File)

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Playoff notebook: Dowagiac wants to improve post season mark

Published 8:02pm Wednesday, October 24, 2012

When the Dowagiac varsity football team steps onto Chris Taylor-Alumni Field Friday night, the Chieftains will be trying to reverse a recent trend.

Since 1985, Dowagiac has gone 13-12 in the post season. It has qualified for the state playoffs 13 times over that stretch.

Last season, the Chieftains snapped a two-year string of first round exits by winning the Division 5 District championship.

Dowagiac (9-0) recently wrapped up its fifth undefeated regular season in school history with a 43-0 win over Otsego, its opponent Friday night.

The Chieftains were 2-1 the last time they went undefeated in the regular season and captured the Class BB Regional championship.

In 1985, another undefeated season, the Chieftains won their first 10 games of the season, but were just 1-1 in the playoffs.

Otsego (6-3) is making its fourth consecutive playoff appearance. The Bulldogs are 0-3 in their previous attempts.

Dowagiac is 6-1 against Otsego since joining the Wolverine Conference, losing to the Bulldogs 21-18 in 2010.

The Chieftains squeaked by Otsego 15-14 last season in a game that took two days to play due to weather.


Defense leads the way

In the last three undefeated campaigns for the Chieftains, defense has been one of the common threads.

In 1996, Dowagiac gave up 83 points in the regular season for an average of 9.2 points per game. This year, the Chieftains have allowed 62 points for an average of 6.8 points per game.

The 1985 squad, which was the first Dowagiac team to qualify for the Michigan High School Athletic Association state playoffs under that format, allowed just 43 points. The Chieftains gave up just 4.7 points per game.

Dowagiac defeated Grand Rapids West Catholic 20-16 at then Alumni Field before losing to defending state champion Wyoming Park 21-0 at Houseman Field in Grand Rapids.


Playoff history

Since 1985, the Chieftains have faced Three Rivers more than any other opponent.

Dowagiac and the Wildcats have met six times with Three Rivers winning four of them, including the most recent meeting in 2008, 33-19.

The regular season has been a different story. The Chieftains are 5-2 against the Wildcats since joining the Wolverine Conference.


Offensive leaders

The Dowagiac defense gets a lot of credit, but its offense has been pretty prolific as well.

Dowagiac has rushed for 2,495 yards this season for an average of 277 yards per game or 6.9 yards per carry.

Todd McInytre is the team’s leading rusher with 492 yards on 55 carries (8.9 per carry). Quarterback Brett Scanlon is next with 439 yards (7.8) and Derek Stark 388 yards (6.8).

Reserve running back Shane Bevins leads the team in average per carry. He has 280 yards on just 19 totes for a whopping 14.7 yards per carry.

Scanlon leads the team in rushing touchdowns with eight. Bevins and Brendon Murray both have six.

Dowagiac’s two-headed quarterback monster has thrown for 699 yards on 42-of-77 passing with 10 touchdowns and just three interceptions.

Cal Cox is 22-of-41 for 383 yards and five TDs. Scanlon is 20-of-36 for 316 yards and five TDs.

McIntyre is their favorite target as he has 13 receptions for 252 yards and two touchdowns. Dontel Highsmith, who came out late and has only played five games, has seven receptions for 152 yards and a team-high four TDs.


Ticket information

Pre-sale tickets for Friday’s Division 4 Pre-District football game between Otsego and host Dowagiac will be on sale at the Athletic Office beginning Thursday.

Tickets, which are $5 each, will be sold Thursday and Friday from 7 a.m. to 3 p.m.

Per Michigan High School Athletic Association rules, season tickets, conference passes and senior citizen gold cards are not accepted.

Also, there is no reserved seating allowed for MHSAA playoff events. Seating will be on a first-come, first-served basis. The gates will open at 6 p.m., one hour before kickoff per the MHSAA.

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