By DOUG DONNELLY
OTTAWA LAKE – Whiteford’s football team can make history Friday night.
The 6-1 Bobcats can clinch a share of the Tri-County Conference championship with a victory over the Summerfield Bulldogs. Whiteford has won four TCC titles all-time and are in position to grab a fifth.
“We know this is going to be one of our toughest games,” Whiteford head coach Jason Mensing said. “It’s going to be a huge challenge for us. We’re hopeful that we are up to the challenge.”
The Bobcats come into the game ranked No. 3 in the latest Associated Press Division 8 poll. Summerfield was 12th in the same poll. Both teams are almost certain to have a playoff berth awaiting them at the conclusion of the regular season.
The Bobcats come into the game 6-1 after a 76-40 win over Kalamazoo Loy Norrix last week. It was a record-tying performance by the Bobcat offense. Cole Giesige rushed for 210 yards and four touchdowns in the win.
Giesige increased his Monroe County Region-leading touchdown and point totals. He has 20 touchdowns and 134 points so far this season, ranking him fifth in both categories on the single season Bobcat record book.
Shea Ruddy added a pair of touchdown passes, giving him 11 for the season and 28 in his career.
Whiteford’s rushing attack is powered by an offensive line that is having a great season and continues to improve. Four-year starter and two-time All-Stater Noah Bauman is the anchor of the line. Other starting lineman are Brayden Luse, Kyle Gray, Shane Suchora and Jack Iott.
On the defensive side of the ball, sophomore starting middle linebacker Jake Iott continues to impress. He added an interception to his statistics last week. He leads the team with 56 tackles. Levi Hillard and Jake Giesige have two sacks each while Bauman, Hillard and Jake Iott have four tackles for loss apiece.
Whiteford’s defense has eight interceptions this season.
Through seven games, the Bobcats are a plus-seven in the turnover margin. Last week the Bobcats turned the ball over on a fumble, the first of the season.
“We’ve got to clean that up,” Mensing said.
Whiteford spent this week preparing for a Summerfield offense that has scored 34 and 29 points in the last two meetings between the Bobcats and Bulldogs.
“They always have some offensive weapons,” Mensing said.
Brandon Thompson has been the go-to guy for the Bulldogs of late. He scored on two long touchdown runs last week, and quarterback Bryce Kalb hooked up with Nathan Herrmann on a pair of long touchdown passes.
Mensing is 9-4 all-time against Summerfield while Lipka is 2-1 against the Bobcats.
“(Summerfield coach) Alex (Lipka) has done a great job there and they play great defense against us every time we play them,” Mensing said.
Here are some pre-game rosters, stats and notes: