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Last Friday, the St. Bede football team earned its fifth victory of the season. That means the Bruins are playoff eligible.
However, St. Bede coach John Bellino doesn’t believe the Bruins will get into the postseason with the minimum five wins.
That’s because St. Bede only has 32 playoff points, which is the second lowest among 5-3 Class 3A teams in the latest IHSA Playoff Outlook.
That means Friday’s 7:30 p.m. game against Sherrard (3-5) at the Academy is crucial for the Bruins.
A victory in the Three Rivers Conference South Division game gives the Bruins a sixth victory and an automatic playoff berth, while a loss means the Bruins will have to sweat out playoff pairings night to see if they get an at-large bid.
We think (the Sherrard game) means a lot,” Bellino said. “We think with a 5-4 record that we might be short on points, but 6-3 definitely gets us in.”
The Bruins (5-3 overall, 2-3 TRC South) are coming off a 34-22 victory over Orion, while Sherrard (3-5, 1-4 TRC South) was eliminated from the postseason last week with a 49-6 loss to Newman.
With nothing else to play for, the Tigers wouldn’t mind playing spoiler for the Bruins.
“I think it adds an element of excitement to it,” Sherrard coach Brett Lee said. “They’re going to come out fired up. We know we have to come out ready to play.” Bellino said Sherrard is similar to Orion offensively.
“Orion and Sherrard are very similar in the fact they use multiple offenses and multiple formations,” Bellino said. “We have to make adjustments real fast out on the field.”
Lee said the Tigers use different looks to keep opponents off balance and put themselves in optimal situations.
“We shift and motion on almost every snap,” Lee said. “For the most part, it’s to gain leverage, find a matchup, add an extra hat or whatever it is. We do it quite a bit. We give a bunch of unique looks. It’s something we take a lot of pride in.”
Lee said the Tigers try to balance their attack — which is led by senior tailback Dwight Swartz and junior tailback Nathan Kelly — between the run and pass.
“They like to throw the ball up,” Bellino said. “These teams from over that way, they’re all new to us. They all seem to be wide-open teams. They can be very scary and can score quickly.
“We have to keep everybody in front of us. We haven’t been doing that. We’ve been giving up the big play. We have to keep them in front and let them make mistakes.”
Lee said the Tigers’ first priority on defense will be slowing down fullback Michael Bellino, who ran for 96 yards and four touchdowns last week.
“I think we have to stop the fullback first and try to limit the big plays,” Lee said. “They’ve shown the ability to establish themselves on the ground and also through the air.
“We’ve had our ups and downs (defensively). We’ve struggled as of late, but we’re trying to find ourselves and finish on a good note.”
And the Bruins hope to finish with a sixth win so they can make the playoffs for the fourth straight year and the sixth time in the last seven years.
Kevin Chlum can be reached at 220-6939, or at email@example.com. Follow him on Twitter @NT_SportsEditor.
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