Tradition • Character • Service

Tradition • Character • Service

Saturday, November 03, 2007 Tony Nicolette's Gliac Column

Hillsdale (6-2, 7-2) at Findlay (3-5, 4-5)

Findlay looks to recover after a rough outing last weekend and see if they can't give themselves a shot at a winning season. Slowing down the high-powered Hillsdale offense will be required in order to do so. The Chargers have had almost no trouble moving the ball on the road, but for some reason the defense has had a hard time keeping up its end of the bargain away from Muddy Waters.

Hillsdale Keys:
- Continued balance. The Chargers have really improved the ground game over the past few weeks, and no longer rely on Mark Nicolet alone to move the ball. Doing the same this week (much like Ashland did vs. Findlay last week) bodes well for them.
- Avoid mistakes. Hillsdale racks up the yardage away from home, but they've also helped their road opponents stay in games with some sloppy play. The Chargers have essentially been in the playoffs for the last three weeks, so they need to keep that mindset here and play a clean game.
- Get stops. Against better teams this year, Findlay has consistently had trouble finishing drives. HC needs to make sure this continues in this game. Keeping the Oilers off the board and setting yourself up with short fields can put them at a disadvantage early. If Findlay gets behind and has to throw, advantage Hillsdale.

Findlay Keys:
- Line it up. Don't make the mistake that Tiffin did last week and try to stop the Chargers from passing. First of all, it can't be completely taken away. Second, the Chargers have shown they are more than capable of running the ball effectively when given the opportunity. Minimizing and containing is Findlay's best shot here. They won't be able to completely stop or take away one particular thing that HC does.
- Successful ground game. If Joel McDaniel and Jonathan Bell get back to both being over 100 yards this week, Findlay is in business. This keeps them in control of the tempo, and keeps Hillsdale's offense off the field.
- Score points. When Findlay has won games this year, they have finished drives and found ways to score. The Oilers will be able to run the ball in this game (Hillsdale is eleventh in the league and gives up 200+ per game on the ground), but settling for FG's or "zeroes" when they get into the red zone will spell almost certain doom.

Prediction: Hillsdale needs a ton of help to make the post-season, but the help (should they get it) won't do them any good if they don't handle their own business first. Like Ashland, I think they'll be dialed-in for this one. They'll need to be, as their road difficulties are well known and their soft spot against the run plays to Findlay's strength on offense. I'm going with Hillsdale here, but I'm not convinced that it's a lock by any means. Hillsdale 38, Findlay 26.

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