Now that the first three weeks of high school football are in the rear view and teams have had a chance to see what they are working with, it’s time to begin the conference schedule.
Although the first three weeks are important for a number of reasons, coaches and players will admit that the games played within the next seven weeks are the ones that really matter.
Heading into Week 4 there are two area teams — Stryker and Montpelier — which haven’t found a way to snag a win, whereas Edgerton has yet to be contested.
The Panthers and Locomotives had a very hard time with their non-conference schedules, while the Bulldogs crushed their non-conference foes, outscoring their three opponents 170-6.
Bryan at Swanton
Last season’s matchup between Bryan and Swanton saw the Golden Bears enter the fourth quarter down 24-7 and come away with a miraculous 27-24 win.
The Bears (2-1) scored four fourth quarter touchdowns with help from a perfectly-timed fake punt and onside kick in a Northwest Ohio Athletic League thriller that ignited Bryan to a 6-2 finish.
Bryan is coming off a cliffhanger last week in which the Bears beat Fairview on a chaotic play with less than a minute left in the game, giving the Bears a 21-20 win.
The revenge win over Fairview should spark some confidence into the Bears heading into Week 4, but Bryan coach Grant Redhead shouldn’t think for a minute that Swanton (2-1) has forgotten about last year’s outcome and most likely has a revenge plot of its own.
Edgerton at Holgate
Edgerton had its way with its Toledo Area Athletic Conference neighbors during the first three weeks, beating Hilltop, Edon and Montpelier by averaging 56.7 points per game on 1,650 yards of total offense.
Don’t look for the Bulldogs (3-0) to be slowed down by Holgate Friday.
The Tigers (2-1) enjoyed back-to-back wins to begin the season against Stryker and Waynesfield-Goshen, but stumbled against Hilltop in Week 3, losing 6-2.
Edgerton is currently No. 6 in Division VII, Region 26 and is on a mission to win the Green Meadows Conference in 2018 and earn back-to-back playoff berths.
The Bulldogs do have a couple of games in which they should be worried about later in the season, but Friday’s game at Holgate shouldn’t be one of them.
Edon vs. Northwood
In its 14 seasons in the TAAC, Edon has never beaten Northwood (2-1). The closest that the Blue Bombers came was in 2017 when Edon lost 41-28 in Week 4.
The Bombers (1-2) were tied with Hicksville going into the fourth quarter last week, but the Aces came out with an eight-point win, which was the closest Edon had come to beating Hicksiville since 2010.
With Gibsonburg and Danbury moving out of the TAAC this season, the Bombers have a good chance of running the table and competing for a conference title.
Edon coach Scott Staten has said from the beginning of the season that this is the year that the Bombers turn heads and a league win over a team they’ve never been able to beat would be a great victory for the program.
Hilltop at Toledo Christian
After getting completely manhandled by Edgerton and Antwerp to start 2018, the Cadets were able to pull off a 6-2 win over Holgate in Week 3 to get their first slash in the win column.
In Week 4, the Cadets (1-2) travel to face a Toledo Christian team which went winless a season ago, although this may be a different Eagle team.
The Eagles (1-2) have already gotten a win thus far in 2018 and are averaging 36 points per game, so they know how to get the ball into the end zone.
The Cadets have only managed to cross the goal line once in three games, so they will need to try to find a way to match and hold a high-scoring Eagles offense Friday in order to come away with the win.
Montpelier at Cardinal Stritch
Montpelier needs a win and they need one ASAP. The Locomotives are riding the area’s longest losing streak — at eight games, and without a victory so far in 2018, their horrid 2017 one-win season still looms.
With that being noted, Week 4 sends the Locos (0-3) to play in Oregon at Cardinal Stritch (0-3), a team which has three-straight one-win seasons and is winless so far in 2018.
In the past two seasons since Montpelier has joined the TAAC, the two teams have never faced-off and will do so for the first time in a Saturday matinee.
While the Locos are winless this season, they have just as good a chance at this point to win the TAAC as any other conference team. A win over Cardinal Stritch would not only put Montpelier in the top half of the league after Week 4, but it would give the team a confidence-builder it so desperately needs.
Stryker vs. Ottawa Hills
It’s inevitable that Stryker will get its inaugural win at some point-in-time, but the Panthers hope it will come this season.
The Panthers (0-3) had a tough time with their non-conference schedule, but as they start TAAC play, they face an Ottawa Hills team which is also winless after three non-conference games.
The Green Bears (0-3) have been outscored 159-14, while the Panthers have been outscored 168-14 through three games.
On paper, this matchup seems to be Stryker’s best chance yet — and possibly best of the season — to get that first coveted win the program has so fiercely been seeking.
Fairview at Antwerp
After dropping a nail-biter to Bryan last week, Fairview is looking to get back on the winning track, starting its GMC schedule at Antwerp.
The Apaches (2-1) entered Week 3 as the No. 1 team in Division VI, Region 22, but fell three places to No. 4 after the last-minute loss to the Golden Bears.
Fairview has an aerial attack like no other in the area. Quarterback Cade Polter is averaging 316 yards passing through three games, with 12 touchdowns.
The Apaches blanked Antwerp 35-0 in Week 10 last season, but this Archer team seems to have bounced back in 2018 to be a formidable GMC opponent.
The Archers (3-0) finished 2017 with one win, but have enjoyed an undefeated season so far in 2018, scoring 35.3 points per game compared to last season’s 16.4, with three shutouts.
The Apaches haven’t won a GMC title since 2008 and have a league championship, as well as a playoff berth, in their sights. An opening conference win over Antwerp must be step one in that process.
Every team’s goal — at least one of them — is to compete for a league title and Week 4 gives every team a chance to start-off in the right direction.
Although it is still an early season and there is a lot of football to be played, a win in Week 4 is very important for teams to gain a competitive edge against their inter-conference adversaries.