DELPHOS – After Delphos St. John’s lost to Marion Local in Week 6 of the regular season, the chances of the 2-4 Blue Jays making it into the playoffs looked bleak.
However, St. John’s responded after the loss to the Flyers by winning four consecutive games to make it into the postseason.
Now, after three playoff wins, St. John’s finds itself in the Division VII football state semifinals.
Ironically, the Blue Jays will face the last team that defeated them.
St. John’s (9-4) will try to avenge its 28-14 loss to Midwest Athletic Conference-foe Marion Local (13-0) when it faces the Flyers at 7 p.m. on Saturday at Wapakoneta’s Harmon Field.
Marion Local will put its 20-game winning streak on the line against St. John’s.
St. John’s is coming off a 33-0 victory over Arlington in a regional final last weekend.
The Blue Jays’ running attack rolled up 350 yards against Arlington.
Tyler Jettinghoff led the way with 161 yards on 26 carries and a rushing touchdown. Jettinghoff also caught a 9-yard TD pass from quarterback Nick Martz. Martz added 76 rushing yards on four carries and a score, while passing for 38 yards and two TDs.
Luke MacLennan rushed for 107 yards on six carries and a TD for the Blue Jays.
“Looking back at the films, I just don’t think we were a very good football team back then (in Week 6),” St. John’s coach Todd Schulte said. “I was pleased at the way we played, physically, but as far as the X’s and O’s, we just didn’t execute.
“I think we’ve done a much better job, as far as executing. And it really shows at practice. We practice a lot better and I think that builds our confidence for the games.”
Schulte points to the improvement of his offensive line as a key to his team’s success.
“You have to give credit to the guys up front,” Schulte said. “We do have a couple backs that run really hard and can make people miss. But, I think we’re doing a much better job up front. That’s where it all starts.”
Marion Local, the two-time defending state champion in Division VI, blasted Triad 50-0 in its regional final. The Flyers took control of the game, building a 44-0 lead by the halftime break.
Leading the Flyers is Pittsburgh-bound quarterback Adam Bertke. After missing four games toward the end of the regular season, Bertke has been behind center the past three weeks.
Against Triad, Bertke was 17-of-23 passing for 212 yards and a TD. The Flyers gained another 203 yards on the ground. Aaron Nietfeld rushed for 81 yards on seven carries and a score for Marion Local.
“He’s been playing really well for us, since he came back,” Goodwin said about Bertke.
Both coaches realize that records mean nothing when these two MAC schools meet.
“Watching their last three playoff games on film, Marion Local is Marion Local,” Schulte said. “They’re not going to beat themselves. Their offense is very good and they play solid defense.
“It speaks volumes about the conference. When we play our (regular-season) schedule, it’s tough top to bottom. That prepares us for the postseason.”
Goodwin added, “It tends to make the game tight (playing twice in a season). There were some seasons where they’ve had a better regular-season record and we played them tight. They (St. John’s) will definitely come out and play us tough. …They won’t back down.”