Northwest Conference forecast

By Jim Naveau -

1. DELPHOS JEFFERSON:The Wildcats (10-2, 7-0 NWC) are going for their fourth consecutive league championship, led by five returning starters on offense and six starters back on defense. Hunter Binkley (1,165 yards rushing) and quarterback Jace Stockwell lead the offense. Defensively, they have two returning starters on the line, at linebacker and at defensive back.

2. SPENCERVILLE: The Bearcats (9-2, 6-1 NWC) will have to replace longtime starters like running back/linebacker Zach Goecke, quarterback Mason Nourse and several other veteran players from last season’s team.

3. CRESTVIEW: The Knights (4-7, 2-5 NWC) will try to control games with a strong running attack.

4. ADA:With nine returning starters on both sides of the ball, the Bulldogs (6-5, 4-3 NWC) could be ready to make a move up in the NWC standings after finishing in a tie for third last season.

5. ALLEN EAST: The Mustangs (6-4, 3-4 NWC) allowed three touchdowns or more to every NWC on their schedule except Paulding last season, so tightening up the defense could be a need this season. Caleb Smelcer is a dual threat on offense and also had four interceptions on defense.

6. COLUMBUS GROVE:The Bulldogs (5-5, 2-5 NWC) have one of the best linemen in the area in Rece Roney.

7. BLUFFTON: The biggest question for the Pirates (7-3, 4-3 NWC) might be replacing Mitchell Ault, a three-year starter at quarterback.

8. PAULDING: The Panthers (0-10, 0-7 NWC) have struggled for several years and it appears they could do that again this season.

By Jim Naveau

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