Playoff bound Delphos St. John’s goes into the final game of the season against state-ranked Coldwater with not much on the line in terms of a conference title or making the postseason but that does not mean the Blue Jays have several goals they want to accomplish with a win Friday night.
Posting a winning record is on the line for Blue Jays who have not had a winning season since 2014. Even though it made the playoffs that year Delphos had a 4-6 record. The following year, Delphos reached a low point in the storied history of Blue Jays’ football when they collected one win in 2015.
In 2016, Delphos bounced back with a 5-5 mark but no trip to the postseason.
“We talked about that a lot over the last couple of years,” Schulte said. “We took our lumps with a one-win team and then we got to 5-5 and saw some more winnings and we want to continue that and we want to increase our win total from last year. We are striving but the big push was getting back to the playoffs and we have done that.”
The Blue Jays opened the year with a win over Woodward and a major victory against 8-1 Lima Central Catholic, 34-14. In its next six games, Delphos would go 3-3 with wins against Versailles, New Bremen and Parkway and losses to Minster, Anna and St. Henry.
As a team, Delphos is averaging 27.9 points a game and giving up 22.7 points a contest.
We’ve played some good games and there has been some games where you just kind of scratch your head and wonder where the team went the week before,” Schulte said. “It has been a roller coaster ride and not for a lack of effort. We play in a league that is really tough and if you are not spot on it becomes a long Friday night.”
Schulte added that with the a relatively young team it has been a learning process with five returning starters on offense and seven or eight on defense depending on the personnel and the formation.
“I think we would like to be a little further ahead than where we are right now but I guess that is what every coach would tell you right now.,” Schulte said. “We are in the playoffs so we feel good about that. We have put ourselves in a position to be there so that is good and are excited about that.”
Offensively, the Blue Jays balanced attack begins with dual threat quarterback Jared Wurst. The junior signal caller has rushed for 540 yards and 12 touchdowns and passed for 1,044 yards and five touchdowns.
Out of the backfield, Cole Reindel has amassed 433 yards and five touchdowns. Others making an impact on the ground are Troy Schwinnen and Isaac Musser who have combined for 504 yards and eight touchdowns.
Five different receivers have caught 10 or more balls this year. Curtis Schwinnen is the leading pass catcher with 16 receptions for 251 yards and teammate Connor Hulihan has 15 grabs for 208 yards.
Schulte said the offense is indicative on how the season has gone.
“I still think we are a work in progress,” Schulte said. “At times we will go on a 10 play drive and we look really good and sound in our offense but then there are times where we have six good plays and then three bad plays and punt the ball.”
Defensively, the Blue Jays were instrumental in the team’s early success, giving up less than 21 points in the first five games. In the last four games, Delphos has given up 21 or more points in three of them.
“Early on we leaned on the defense because of their experience we had coming back but our downfall has been giving up the big play,” Schulte said. “We’ve made it tough on some good teams but then we give up a 40 yard touchdown.”
Also on the line is playing host to a playoff game. At No. 3 in latest region 28 rankings Delphos is assured of a playoff spot, however, a win would clinch a home game.
Schulte added that a win would also build some momentum going into the playoffs especially in a season that has seen plenty of ups and downs.
“I don’t think we have played our best game on either side of the ball,” Schulte said. “Hopefully Friday night that is the case and can carry us into the playoffs.”
The highly anticipated match up between Spencerville (7-2, 6-0) and Delphos Jefferson (6-3, 4-2) still has plenty on the line despite the Wildcats falling to Crestview last week. The Wildcats find themselves in the role of spoiler. If they can produce the win and Crestview (8-1, 5-1) defeats Paulding (1-8, 0-6) the Knights will share the NWC title. Jefferson is ranked No. 11 in the Division VI Region 25 rankings and a win against Spencerville could push them into the playoffs.
Ada (6-3, 4-2) is also hoping to make the postseason. The Bulldogs are ranked No. 7 in Division V Region 22, and Ada will try to solidify its position with a win against rival Allen East (2-7, 1-5). In another rivalry game, Columbus Grove (2-7, 2-4) battles Columbus Grove (3-6, 2-4).
Western Buckeye League
With St. Marys (8-1, 8-0) wrapping up the WBL title, pride and the playoffs for some teams is on the line this week. St. Marys faces longtime rival Wapakoneta (4-5, 4-4). The Redskins are seventh in the Division III Region 12 rankings.
Two spots behind Wapakoneta in the same region is Celina (6-3, 6-2). The Bulldogs will face Shawnee (4-5, 3-5).
Elida (7-2, 6-2) is ranked No. 6 in the playoff rankings and will play host to Ottawa-Glandorf (3-6, 3-5). In other action Van Wert (4-5, 3-5) travels to Defiance (1-8, 0-8) and Bath (1-8, 0-8) battles Kenton (4-5, 4-4).
Northwest Central Conference
Perry (5-4, 5-1), fresh off a loss, will be fighting for its playoffs life, when the Commodores take on Elgin (7-2, 4-2). Perry is ranked eighth in the Division VII Region 28 district and will need a win and a little help to make the postseason.
Perry still has a chance of sharing the NWCC title as well if Riverside (6-3, 5-1) can beat Lehman (8-1, 6-0).
In other action, Hardin Northern (3-6, 2-4) faces Upper Scioto Valley (3-6, 2-4) and Ridgemont (0-9, 0-6) plays Waynesfield-Goshen (1-8, 0-6).
Lima Central Catholic (8-1), second in the Division VI Region 24, will end its season with a game against Gilmour Academy (6-3). The Lancers have won their last two contests and are coming off a 38-32 win against Lutheran East.
Pandora-Gilboa (7-2, 5-2) and Leipsic (7-2, 5-2) are both in prime positions to make the postseason and will try to solidify those spots this week. The Rockets will play Cory-Rawson and Leipsic ends its regular season with a game against Arlington.
Reach Jose Nogueras at 567-242-0468 or on twitter at @JoseNogueras1