Annawan-Wethersfield and Ridgewood meet Friday in Cambridge. Both teams are 5-0. The winner clinches a spot in the Class 1A playoffs.
For Ridgewood, unranked and yet to face a team that has a winning record to this point of the season, it’s clearly a test.
“We’re still building,” Ridgewood coach Bruce Redding said. “So far, still grounded, still focused.”
Ridgewood just missed getting to the playoffs last year, losing to Mid-County 2-0 in a mud bowl. This time around, Ridgewood beat Mid-County 22-14. It has since defeated Stark County 35-20 and Mercer County 20-6, mainly by jumping out to an early advantage.
And it has the home field. Redding says he doesn’t look behind him to judge the size of the crowd that’s been filling the stadium bowl in Cambridge. “But I can hear them through,” he says. “They are getting louder and louder every week, which is great.”
Ridgewood quarterback Logan Nodine had had a strong senior season, Redding says. Nodine had two touchdown passes against Mercer County last week. He is a threat to run or pass.
Junior Colton Stahl is the main running back. At 6-2, sophomore Lucas Kessinger has been a ready receiving target. Lucas Althaus is another receiver.
Anchoring the Ridgewood defense is senior Alex Johnson and Nodine, as well as deep back Weston Brown, who had an interception last week.
Annawan-Wethersfield enters the game ranked fourth by the Associated Press. Last week it faced down another previously unbeaten team in Princeville. The Lincoln Trail Conference is doing its best to produce some high-quality matchups.
“We’re very lucky to have have the challenge,” A-W coach Logan Willits said. “We’ll see how we rise to the occasion. It helps us to get to the end game.”
Willits said a key factor will be time of possession — which turned out to be a crucial element of the 22-7 victory over Princeville.
In the fourth quarter, Annawan-Wethersfield had a scoring drive that lasted 5 minutes, 37 seconds of game time. It then had another series last 3:30 and it ran down the clock for the final 1:39.
“The key was controlling the clock,” Willits said. “We out-snapped them by a significant amount.”
With discipline play calling, A-W was able to move the ball, gain first downs, and dictate tempo.
Coltin Quagliano had 156 yards passing.
Defensively, Annawan-Wethersfield will be without Tuker Miller, who suffered a pulled groin muscle. He had two solo tackles and five assisted tackles against Princeville.