By Kurt Ritzman
Assistant Sports Editor
Central DeWitt has a chance for retribution Wednesday night against one of the three teams its lost to this season.
But more importantly, the Sabers (6-3) are looking for a playoff win against Manchester West Delaware.
West Delaware (7-2) won 28-7 in DeWitt in the season-opener for both teams. This time, the Sabers are hoping to end West Delaware’s season in Manchester.
“Executing is key,” Central DeWitt coach Mike Miller said. “We need to do our job on every play. We’ve been working on being more consistent on every play. We’ve come a long way. I think if we do that, we’ll really position ourselves to be successful.”
With a short week, Miller said playing a team they’ve already seen could be a blessing in some ways.
“From a preparation standpoint, it makes it a little easier,” he said. “We’re more familiar with the types of things they want to do. We know their formations and what they try to do defensively.”
The first game wasn’t as lopsided as a three-touchdown difference might seem.
“We let some opportunities slip away,” Miller said. “We didn’t take care of the ball as well as we should have. I think we had two fumbles in the red zone. Whoever makes the fewest mistakes has a good chance, and we’ve really preached that this week.”
Central DeWitt senior quarterback Mitch Green boiled it down even further.
“We need to hold on to the ball and have no dumb penalties,” he said.
Turnovers weren’t all that cost the Sabers in the opening week. West Delaware rushed for 350 yards, including 181 by senior Ryan Dudak and 154 by junior Tim Tutton. Dudak rushed for 1,724 yards on the season, and Tutton 611.
“We’ve come a long way defensively — with personnel, playing assignment football and schematically,” Miller said. “We really struggled then. Now we feel confident in our guys and their ability to execute the scheme. Playing an opponent, such as West Delaware, that’s battle-tested will be a tall test, but the kids have risen to the challenge.”
The Sabers have 16 seniors on their roster, and Miller said they’ve brought good leadership.
“They’ve brought very valuable experience,” Miller said. “They’ve really sensed the urgency and taken advantage of the opportunities. They’ve done an outstanding job of focusing the ballclub.”
As far as the Sabers’ keys for a victory, Miller said it was pretty easy. They need to execute well and play with high intensity for the whole game.
Fans can expect a lot of rushing in the game. West Delaware ranks third in Class 3A with 2,549 yards and Central DeWitt was the top rushing team in the class with 2,772 yards.
Chris Keitel led the way with 982 yards and nine touchdowns. Green gained 719 yards — and passed for 468 — while Jake Feldpausch (359) and Austin Lechtenberg (316) also rushed for more than 300 yards in the regular season.
“We need to do the fundamental things,” Miller said. “Good teams don’t get away from the things that they do. We’re going to come back with what we do well and try to do it a little bit better.”