No. 1 Eddies host No. 3 Wildcats Friday

EDWARDSBURG — The biggest game of the 2018 season has arrived.

No. 1-ranked Edwardsburg (6-0) will host No. 3-ranked Three Rivers (6-0) for the Wolverine Conference championship at Leo Hoffman Field Friday night.

The winner will claim at least a share of the league championship as the other eight teams have at least two losses on the season.

Edwardsburg is on a mission to return to the Division 4 state championship game.

The five-time defending conference champions will also be looking to erase the memory of a regular-season loss to the Wildcats in 2017.

Three Rivers upset the Eddies 21-18 last season, but Edwardsburg turned the tables on the Wildcats in the postseason, winning 30-12 in the Division 4 district championship game.

Edwardsburg rolls into Friday night’s contest fresh from a 58-6 thrashing of Plainwell, which earned it an automatic playoff berth.

Three Rivers defeated South Haven 55-7 last week to also improve to 6-0 and earn an automatic playoff berth.

“We have played very well for the past six weeks and feel we are getting better every week,” said Edwardsburg coach Kevin Bartz. “Each new opponent provides us with different nuances to prepare for. We stress to the kids the importance of mastering their keys and doing their job every play. We try to focus more on the process and perfecting the details. If we continue to do that the end result should be favorable.”

The Wildcats are experienced and dangerous, especially through the air.

Quarterback Jalen Heivilin has competed 44 of his 69 pass attempts for 593 yards with six touchdowns and three interceptions in the four games he has played.

Devin Gidley has played in all six games for the Wildcats and is 13-of-20 for 176 yards with three touchdowns and a pair of interceptions.

“Their biggest threat comes from the arm of their quarterback Jalen Heivilin,” Bartz said. “Heivilin is posed, confident and does an excellent job of reading defenses. He has a handful of excellent receivers to throw to, including Gavin Charvat and Bryce Morlan.”

Morlan had 18 receptions for 192 yards and six touchdowns. Charvat has caught 17 passes for 215 yards and a score.

Jett Haifley is a third option for Three Rivers with his seven receptions for 143 yards and a touchdown.

On the ground, the Wildcats turn to Garrett McDonald, who has rushed for 261 yards on 49 carries with four touchdowns, and Parker Ellifritz, who has 263 yards on 54 carries and five touchdowns.

With the postseason just three weeks away, Friday night’s clash will have the feel of a playoff game.

“There is a lot of excitement surrounding this game,” Bartz said. “This game pits two teams that are both 6-0, that are ranked first and third in the state, that played twice last year with each team claiming a victory. This game will most likely decide the conference champion and to add to the excitement it is homecoming night at Edwardsburg. It should be a football fan’s perfect night.”

The Eddies continue to grind up yards.

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