MADISON TOWNSHIP —
There are games... then, there are big games.
And tonight’s Premier Athletic Conference clash between five-time defending champion South and co-league leading Madison at Blue Streak Memorial Stadium certainly qualifies as the latter.
Coach Tim Willis’ Blue Streaks (5-1, 3-0) enter tonight’s showdown against coach Matt Duffy’s Rebels (5-1, 2-1) tied with Riverside atop the PAC standings.
Throw in the fact Madison has won only four of 11 games against South all-time, the last being a 24-21 verdict at home in 2007, and tonight’s clash is certainly one between titans.
While Madison comes in on a four-game winning streak after last week’s 41-7 blasting of visiting North, South comes in having lost its first PAC game since Week 10 in 2007, a 14-7 decision last week at Chardon, a defeat that snapped the Rebels’ 31-game conference winning streak.
Willis knows his Blue Streaks will face a focused group of Rebels coming to town tonight. South played without star running back D.J. Greene last week at Chardon.
“South is a great team, who will be motivated to get back on track this week,” he said. “South’s star running back was suspended last week and he has been rushing for over 100 yards per game.
“He probably will be back against us. We have a great challenge this week and we must step up.”
Willis is well versed on the challenges his guys will face tonight.
“They run a spread offense and a 4-2-5 defense,” he said. “We must stop the running game of Andre Smith (5-foot-8, 160-pound sophomore) and D.J. Greene (5-11, 195, junior). Both are very fast and powerful.”
The Blue Streaks took care of business last week against North to set the stage for tonight’s entanglement with South.
“We did what we had to to get the win,” he said. “It’s difficult to get your team motivated to play a team who was 0-5. A win is a win and we have are work cut out for us this week.
“We played good solid Madison football.”
Willis explained when he heard the news coach Mitch Hewitt’s Hilltoppers had ended South’s 31-game, five-season conference winning streak.
“In my office after the game,” he said. “I was surprised, but not surprised because Chardon is a good football team.
“In the PAC, you must be ready to play every week or you will lose. Chardon had a gameplan and executed it perfectly.
“Congrats to the Chardon coaching staff.”
Willis went back to basics when asked about keys to emerging victorious tonight.
“We must be able to stop the run, have balance in our offense and gain field position with special teams,” he said.
The always-to-the-point dean of area coaches laid it our plain and simple — as usual — for tonight’s highly anticipated matchup.
“They want to get back on track and are going to come after us,” he said. “We must prepare and put in the work necessary to be successful.
“This is going to come down to the team that wants it more.”