Sailors present big test for ChieftainsPublished 9:42pm Wednesday, October 31, 2012
If the Dowagiac football team wants to win its second straight district title, it will have to defeat its toughest opponent of the season.
Despite a 7-3 record, Grand Rapids South Christian will be the best team the Chieftains have faced in 2012. The Sailors’ three losses were to playoff bound teams, including undefeated Grand Rapids Catholic Central, 9-1 Grand Rapids South Christian and Hudsonville Unity Christian.
South Christian opened the post season with a 48-0 win over Wolverine Conference East Division champion Paw Paw Friday night.
Veteran Dowagiac coach Mike Stanger knows that his team will need to be focused and disciplined Friday night if it wants to continue its season.
“They play a good schedule,” Stanger said of the Sailors. “We are going to face another good quarterback just like we did last year against Lansing Catholic Central. The sophomore is doing a nice job.”
Jon Wassink, who is already getting looks from several Division 1 schools, was 10-of-12 for 152 yards and a touchdown last week against the Redskins. He also ran four times for 53 yards and a score.
Cody Boomsma got the bulk of the carries last week against Paw Paw, carrying the ball 13 times for 52 yards. Chad Sterk scored three touchdowns on five carries.
The top receiver was Austin Diekevers, who had five catches for 83 yards and a score.
The Sailors run the spread offense and Wassink carries the ball a lot just like Dowagiac does with Brett Scanlon.
“We have to know where Sterk and Diekevers are at all times,” Stanger said. “They throw a lot of quick stuff to Sterk and then they like to go vertical with Diekevers.”
Stanger said that South Christian has good size along its lines.
“Their defense is aggressive,” Stanger said. “We expect to see an odd front, but even if we don’t and they go even front we’ve seen that the last two weeks, so we should be ready for that, too.”
One of the keys to winning the game Friday night will be controlling the line of scrimmage.
“We cannot give up the big plays. They had several big plays against Paw Paw,” Stanger pointed out.
The Sailors returned a fumble 52 yards, had a 35-yard touchdown pass and scored on runs of 19 and 17 yards.
Another key will be turnovers and penalties. Both teams have good kickers and may have to go the length of the field in order to score.
But with a kicker that boots the ball near the end zone like South Christian’s does, Stanger is hoping special teams may play a factor in the outcome.
“Hopefully our kickoff return team will get a chance to make a play,” he said.
Kickoff for Friday night’s game at Chris Taylor-Alumni Field is set for 7 p.m.