By Cort Reynolds
Ada Herald writer
ADA - Delphos Jefferson won't have to wait long for a chance to avenge its lone loss this season against the Ada football team.
Two weeks after the gritty Bulldogs knocked off the Wildcats 25-20 in Delphos to earn a three-way share of the Northwest Conference crown, the two rivals will meet once more in first round playoff action at the same venue of Stadium Park.
Ada first-year head coach Bob Olwin is not overly fond of the set-up the computer rankings handed his squad. "I am not a big fan of playing someone two times in three weeks, especially from your own league and in the first round of the playoffs," he said.
"I would sort of like to compete against teams from some other areas in the playoffs. We have some really good teams in our region."
Due to the Bulldog 34-20 loss at LCC in week 10, Ada (7-3) dropped to seventh in the region 20 rankings while Jefferson (9-1) inched up to second after beating rival Spencerville to set up the rematch.
Had they beaten the Thunderbirds, Ada would have moved all the way up to second and hosted LCC in a back-to-back matchup, so a rematch of some sort was inevitable.
The T-Birds (8-2) improved from seventh to third in region 20 by beating Ada in the season finale, and earned a chance to host sixth-rated Crestview (8-2).
Olwin admitted the revenge motive for DJ will be strong since his club recently cost the Wildcats an unbeaten regular season and an outright league crown.
"But the biggest thing is that they have a really nice team," he warned. "We also have to worry about the weather playing on a grass field. We will take a duplicate of what happened (in week nine)," he chuckled.
The Bulldogs are 3-3 on the road this season. Jefferson is 4-1 at home, losing only to Ada.
"It will come down to basically controlling their running attack," predicted Olwin regarding the key to victory. In week nine, the Bulldogs ran 83 plays to 50 by DJ and held ace running back Zavier Buzard to just four yards in the first half before the senior speedster broke loose for 114 yards after intermission.
"We will have to play good pass defense, get some turnovers and limit our interceptions and fumbles," continued Olwin. "We need good special teams coverage and have to execute offensively.
"We have made great strides on offense, we just need to be more consistent," he added.
Adding to the challenge is the fact that the Bulldogs are coming off a short week with a day less to rest and prepare than Jefferson, who defeated Spencerville 35-21 last Friday.
Injuries could also play a role, with do-it-all Ada quarterback/defensive back Matt Wilcox dinged up at LCC with a stiff neck, sore back and shoulder issues.
Wilcox sat out the end of the contest at Lima, but Olwin expects he will be ready to play Friday. "He came to practice sore Monday," said Olwin. "Monday was like Sunday for our kids, so they were a little sore at practice. We won't hit all week."
He pointed out that standout lineman Lane Nitchie is questionable for Friday. He missed time earlier in the season due to a concussion and was hurt at LCC. "We hope to get Grant McBride (WR/DB) back for Delphos," Olwin observed.
Ada is making its eighth straight playoff showing and ninth overall. In post-season play the program is 10-8. The Bulldogs advanced to the state semifinals in 2007 for their best showing, and lost to Delphos St. John's in the round of eight in both 2008 and 2009.
"It is a special event for our kids, the community, and coaches," said Olwin of keeping the playoff streak alive. "Not everybody gets to make the post-season. It is a credit to the kids and coaches in the past, too."
The Bulldogs have won six straight opening round playoff games dating back to 2006, when they lost at Hardin Northern 21-14 in their first playoff showing since their initial appearance back in 1994.
Last year, top seed Ada drubbed sub-.500 Waynesfield 50-15 in the first round before being eliminated in the second round for the third year in a row, this time by St. Henry in a 40-35 shootout.
Kick-off for the first-ever Bulldog vs. Wildcat playoff meeting is set for Friday night at 7:30 p.m.
"We faced adversity and played a tough schedule," noted Olwin, whose club enjoyed only four home games. "We had some long road trips and delays that hopefully made us tougher."
The winner of the Ada/DJ and LCC/Crestview first round battles will meet in the region 20 quarterfinals in yet another rematch Friday, Nov. 15 at a site TBA.