Perry seniors Chazz Jackson and Brayden Owens understand that opponents have underestimated them all year due to their roster size of 23 and playing in the Northwest Central Conference and this week will be no different when they travel to Piqua to face New Bremen of the Midwest Athletic Conference at 7 p.m. Saturday.
And it was accentuated when the team lost its first three games.
“I feel like a lot of teams underestimate us since we started off 0-3 and there was a lot of different rumors going around that we shouldn’t have won conference but I feel like we can compete with any school around.”
Owens echoed his teammate’s sentiment and added that going against a MAC school that it will probably be the same but the duo is not concerned with that.
“Everybody is always talking about the MAC and how good they are but I think we are just as good as New Bremen, and I think it will be good game, and I think we will all battle, and it will be a good game.”
The two seniors, along with the rest of the Commodores, come into the game with a lot of confidence after traveling down to Cincinnati and dominating Cincinnati College Prep Academy, 44-0, for the school’s first playoff victory.
“It was a great experience, and it felt pretty good,” Jackson said about making history and winning the first playoff game. “It was all about confidence. We knew it was going to be a tough game coming in but just outplayed them, and they just laid down.”
Owens said when the team started 0-3 it was tough.
“It was very hurtful losing three but then we bounced back and fought and persevered through all the hardships, and we fought with pride and then we won seven in a row (to finish the regular season) and that was huge for us.”
Both seniors said because there are 23 players on the roster that it is a tight knit group and because they are seniors they have become leaders.
Jackson has become somewhat of the quarterback on the defense, and Owens has provided stability and sage advice for the younger players.
“I’m captain so I have to get on the younger guys and get on the guys during practice but it is huge because everyone has to participate and add their spin to the mix,” Owens said.
Perry head coach Dan Baker said the playoff win gave his team, especially some of the younger players, a chance to not only gain postseason experience but also gave the Commodores a huge confidence boost.
Not that Perry needed anymore. The Commodores are on an eight game winning streak that led to the program’s first Northwest Central Conference crown.
“We felt we had a decent draw and avoid some of the teams that are in the playoffs every year,” Baker said. “I think these guys don’t get phased too much after the early struggles that we had.”
Baker added that in the win against CCPA, the defense shut down its top rusher and the offense continued to shine under the guidance of sophomore signal caller Ryan Yingst and the talent of Jackson and Co.
“Overall, when your offense is executing the way it does and your defense takes away their best offensive weapons it definitely makes for an easier day,” Baker said. “Our guys have been dangerous out in space and have been all year, and we showed it again.”
The Commodores will have their hand’s full against a New Bremen team that went 8-3 and 5-3 in the conference. The Cardinals’ three losses were to Minster, Coldwater and Anna. All three were playoff teams.
In its first round playoff game, New Bremen downed New Miami 45-15. Unlike other MAC teams, New Bremen is making its first playoff appearance since 2004.
During the regular season, New Bremen (7-3) averaged 321 yards and 26.2 points per game and allowed an average of 275 yards and 22.8 points per game.
New Bremen junior quarterback Mitchell Hays has completed 33-of-83 passes for 408 yards with four TDs and five interceptions and has run for a team-best 882 yards and 12 touchdowns on 135 carries. Junior Zach Bertke has run for 757 yards and six TDs and junior Wyatt Dicke has run for 590 yards and six TDs.
Like his players, Baker fully understands what playing a MAC team means and why teams might underestimate them because they play in the NWCC which he said is a lot tougher than people give it credit.
But he also knows it is not like the MAC.
“They are going to be a well-coached team and they are 50 deep which is its own obstacle,” Baker said. “They ground the ball real well and they pound it. They obviously play a real tough schedule.”
Baker added that the key will be to shut down the Cardinals run game.”
Reach Jose Nogueras at 567-242-0468.