“It feels like new life,” he said. “We start the season with a goal of win your conference. We were let down when we lost the week before but getting it back is new life toward attacking that goal, and we’re grateful for the opportunity. We know we needed help, but we’ll take the help.”
Wayne (7-2) has needed help since losing to Springfield 21-14 in the conference opener on Sept. 10. The Warriors haven’t lost since and are coming off narrow victories over Fairmont and Springboro.
“It’s a huge accomplishment for both teams to be in this position,” Wayne coach Roosevelt Mukes said. “That’s one of the first goals you set going into your season. From the beginning, you always want to be in a position to play late in the season when it means something.”
Assuming Springfield wins, the Wayne-Centerville winner will be the No. 3 seed in the Division I, Region II playoffs and host the No. 14 seed next weekend. The loser could drop a spot or two depending on what Findlay and Toledo Whitmer do and how the points shake out. Ullery and his staff have done the math and they figure the loser will be No. 5.
Then there’s the rivalry part. When Mike Schneider turned the Wayne football program into a consistent winner in the early 80s, it added fuel to an important Dayton rivalry. Schneider’s first Wayne team in 1981 knocked off Centerville. Mukes was a freshman then, was a longtime assistant and is in his third year as head coach.
“Playing in a game of this magnitude, and then with it being Centerville, we just look forward to the challenge,” Mukes said. “We know that we’re playing a good team that’s going to be ready to play.”
Ullery grew up with the rivalry, too. He graduated from Centerville in 2003 and has been on the coaching staff for eight years, the last five as head coach.
“We love the game, and so does Wayne,” Ullery said. “The Centerville-Wayne rivalry, in my opinion, is how rivalries are supposed to be. They play really hard, but there’s a great mutual respect.”
Both teams are led by dynamic players on offense and defense. Wayne’s offensive line is loaded with Division I recruits, they run the ball well led by Jordan Ward and they give their opponents a lot to prepare for with two quarterbacks – freshman Tyrell Lewis and senior Bryan Kinley, who doubles as a wide receiver.
“Both of them are doing a good job,” Mukes said. “Sometimes it’s just a matter of doing what’s best for the team at that moment. Sometimes situations dictate that.”
Centerville quarterback Chase Harrison and receivers Cam Smith and Ryan Keifer have put pressure on defenses all season.
“They have so many playmakers on both sides of the ball, so we have to continue to tell our guys to do your job – don’t try to do any more, don’t do any less,” Mukes said.
Other Friday games to watch:
Sidney (4-5) at Xenia (5-3): Both teams will be on the road for the Division II playoffs and the loser will, presumably, get a tougher first-round opponent.
Valley View (5-4) at Bellbrook (7-2): Bellbrook is in the playoffs but one more win could move them from No. 3 to No. 2 in the Division III, Region 12.
Alter (4-5) at Chaminade-Julienne (3-4): Alter needs to win to give itself a chance to avoid missing the playoffs for the first time since 2000.
Monroe (7-2) at Eaton (9-0): Eaton is playoff-bound in Division IV but wants an unbeaten season.
Preble Shawnee (9-0) at Dixie (2-7): Shawnee could win and still slip out of second place in Division V. But a first unbeaten season will make up for it.