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St. Joseph-Ogden and Wilmington have a storied football history.
Head coach Dick Duval went as far as to call Wilmington the Spartans’ nemesis.
They should be.
The Spartans have taken on Wilmington three times in the playoffs.
In 2007, SJO’s Zach Becker led the Spartans past the Wildcats and into the quarterfinals with a 26-7 win in the second round of the Class 3A playoffs.
Becker, who had a season-high eight carries at fullback for 23 yards and a touchdown, anchored the Spartans’ attack on both sides of the ball.
Besides his running, Becker was a force to be reckoned with on defense and also came up with a well-timed punt block for the Spartans.
Despite falling behind early after a first-quarter touchdown by the Wildcats, the Spartans did anything but panic.
Senior tailback Will Lindsey responded on the following possession with a 56-yard touchdown run that put SJO back in the contest.
Lindsey, who carried the bulk of the load for the Spartans in that same night, finished with 203 yards on the ground on 21 carries and one touchdown.
Despite not having his best game passing, Spartans quarterback Tyler Johnson (4 of 16, two touchdowns, two interceptions) was able to connect with his receivers when it mattered most.
Johnson found his go-to receiver, Lukas Graves, twice in the second half for a pair of touchdowns. In addition to his two touchdowns and 69 yards receiving, Graves also had a critical interception late in the third quarter.
In 2008, the Spartans were not so lucky and lost to Wilmington 41-6 in a first round Class 3A playoff game.
In 2009, it was more of the same. SJO lost 57-26 in the second round of the Class 3A playoffs.
With St. Joseph-Ogden driving for what could have been the tying touchdown in the second quarter, Wilmington picked off a pass and returned it for a momentum-changing touchdown.
The Spartans never recovered.
Wilmington held Jake Bock to 15 yards on 15 carries.
Blake Hoveln was 15 of 29 for 206 yards and three touchdowns, but also was picked off twice.
Duval is hoping history doesn’t repeat itself.
He said Aurora Catholic Central, who SJO played Saturday, runs a similar offense to Wilmington and will be a challenge for the Spartans.
“I know they are a lot tougher and more physical than (Aurora Central Catholic),” Duval said.
Senior wide receiver Louis Acklin said the Spartans were going to have to focus during practice this week if they wanted to beat the Wildcats.
“We are going to have to play better to win up there,” he said.
SJO will take on Wilmington (8-2) at Wilmington at 6 p.m. on Saturday.