St. Joseph has lost three straight football games, and its first-round playoff opponent has won 23 in a row.
But the Bears are feeling optimistic as they travel to take on Edwardsburg in a Division 3 playoff opener at 7 p.m. Friday.
“We’re excited,” St. Joseph coach Andrew Pratley said. “We played three really good teams and had three really great games. We just came up short. We’re getting healthy at the right time.”
The Bears will welcome back starting quarterback Troy Pratley, who hasn’t played since getting injured in a win over Lakeshore in the fourth week of the season.
“He feels pretty good, we’re going to give it a shot,” coach Pratley said. “That brings some different dimensions.”
Edwardsburg has moved up from Division 4, where it won last season’s state championship and finished runner-up the year before.
The Eddies are led by lineman Josh Priebe, who has committed to play at Northwestern next season. Mac Gaideski leads a variety of ball carriers in the Eddies’ wing-T offense.
Coach Pratley has seen Edwardsburg in scrimmages both this season with St. Joseph as well as last year when he coached Holland.
“We know quite a bit about them firsthand,” Pratley said. “They do what they do well. They’re very good on both sides of the ball.
“You don’t get a lot of possessions when you play Edwardsburg. They don’t punt, they control the clock.”
St. Joseph has been strong against the run this season, with linebackers Brent Huff and Konner Lavanway leading the way.
Jeremiah Sterling has led St. Joseph offensively with 850 rushing yards and 12 touchdowns.
St. Joseph has only played Edwardsburg once in recent history, winning 40-28 in a 2015 district championship game.
The Bears were coached at the time by Gandalf Church, who resigned after last season is now the Edwardsburg defensive coordinator.
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