With Saturday’s victory against the Wayne State Warriors, Ferris football controls its own playoff destiny if the Bulldogs win out the rest of the season.
The two-time GLIAC champion Bulldogs are tied at No. 2 in the conference in overall record, but have a tiebreaker win over Wayne State. A third straight GLIAC championship is out of reach with undefeated Grand Valley ready to take that crown. But the Bulldogs will make the playoffs with victories in their final two games.
As of Monday, Oct. 24, the Bulldogs were ranked ninth in Super Region IV. Three GLIAC teams ranked above them in Grand Valley, Ashland and Wayne State. Grand Valley remained undefeated this past weekend and safe at the No. 1 spot. But Ashland lost to Michigan Tech and Ferris shut down Wayne State Saturday, Oct. 29. With those losses, both the Eagles and Warriors hold identical records to the Bulldogs at 7-2.
The victory over Wayne State was huge in terms of rankings but will also help the Bulldogs moving forward. Head Coach Tony Annese said his team needed this victory for confidence.
“These are the kind of games that will hopefully propel you with a lot of confidence to finish the regular season strong,” Annese said. “[The Warriors] were dangerous and competitive. This is the kind of game I was looking for from the beginning.”
Since the Dawgs beat the Warriors, Ferris will finish ahead of them given tied records. The Bulldogs lost that edge to the Eagles on the opening game of the season when Ashland came to Big Rapids and shocked the home crowd. If Ferris and Ashland finish with tied records, the Eagles would place higher.
Despite that, the Bulldogs will make the playoffs if they win their next two games. In the first, the Dawgs must do something they haven’t done in Annese’s tenure—beat the Hillsdale Chargers.
The last time the Dawgs downed the Chargers was in the 2011 Ferris home opener. The Bulldogs lost 30-20 in Annese’s first homecoming game in 2012 and again on the road in 2013 by score of 45-38.
Annese said, “I’ve been here five years and the only team we haven’t beaten is Hillsdale.”
The Chargers have underperformed this season going 4-4, but they rank fifth in run defense in the GLIAC, so they may still show resistance against Ferris which ranks second in rushing offense.
In addition to their running prowess, the Bulldogs lead the GLIAC in stopping the run allowing 109.8 yards per game. Against Wayne State, they held Romello Brown, the leading rusher in the GLIAC to 82 yards compared to his 137.9 yards per game average. A big part of the Dawgs’ daunting run defense is a deep defensive line led by breakout sophomore Zach Seiler.
This 6-foot-6-inch, 275 pound defensive end leads the GLIAC in sacks with 13. Six and a half of those came in the last two weeks. With Seiler leading the way, the Bulldogs have the second most sacks in the GLIAC with 29.
Seiler said, “Our first and second string, it’s all first string to me. We’re all getting there. It’s a whole team effort for the D-line.”
The road to the playoffs starts on the road against the Chargers at noon Saturday, Nov. 5, in Hillsdale.