Battle of the bark

Bulldogs with chance to take over GLIAC against Huskies

The last two undefeated teams in the GLIAC will face off this weekend when Ferris travels to Michigan Tech.

The Bulldogs have already knocked off an undefeated Ohio Dominican team on the road, thus ending their 21-game winning streak in the regular season. Now Ferris must travel all the way to Houghton to face its final undefeated test of the regular season. It’s going to be a dogfight.

An October 25 date with the Huskies could decide the GLIAC regular season championship.

Last year when the two teams squared off in Huskie territory, the Bulldogs survived a nail-biter in the waning minutes of the fourth quarter and won 30-27. This year, however, the Bulldogs are on an 11-game winning streak, and are hoping for a more decisive victory.

Perhaps one of the most notable differences from this year’s edition of Bulldog football is the improved defense.

Last year, the Bulldog’s defense had surrendered 248 points by this time in the season, which is a far cry from the mere 111 that they’ve given up this year.

The offense has also improved, as junior quarterback Jason Vander Laan and his receiving corps have worked hard to expand the passing game, despite injuries to some key offensive weapons including senior wide receiver Jake Lampman.

“You know, it’s unfortunate for those guys because they’ve worked so hard and we’re trying to get those guys back in the lineup. We’ve got three younger guys who have stepped up and they’re doing a pretty good job,” assistant coach Sparky McEwen said. “I mean you can’t just replace a talent like Lampman, so we’re trying to get him back on the field, but meanwhile, the younger guys are working hard, meeting the challenge and each week we’ve got another guy stepping up.”

The offense has also expanded by featuring two running backs with very different running styles, in redshirt freshman Jahaan Brown and senior Jamaal Jackson.

“It’s definitely a situational rotation. When we need tough yards or someone to block, Jamaal is great for that. I think it is helpful to play with him because he tells me a lot to help me get better,” Brown said. “We’re starting to show teams that they need to recognize both of us as well as the other many threats on the field, which puts a lot of pressure on them.”

However, as was the case on Homecoming against Findlay, special teams can also be a major advantage, especially when both teams are undefeated. Therefore, the Bulldogs need to continue their successes in all aspects of the game.

“In order to be a great team, we need to be sound on everything. Offense, defense and special teams. Coach stresses that a lot, and it pays off,” Brown said.

If the Bulldogs are clicking on all cylinders, it is difficult for anybody to hang with them, and if they come away with a victory this weekend, the conference title is all but assured. Barring a huge upset, the Bulldogs should be able to coast to a GLIAC Championship if they can knock off Michigan Tech.

“Well if you look back at it after game 11 you’d probably think, ‘well that was a big game,’ but now we’re just looking at it as a game where the winner is still in first place in the GLIAC and the loser takes second. So that’s how we’re going to look at it,” head coach Tony Annese said.