St. John and Cameron are two teams both looking for important wins for their respective programs Friday night, but both for different reasons.
For first-year coach Jeff Paolina and his Fighting Irish, it will be trying to avoid a possible winless season and getting that first victory, while for veteran mentor Jim Rogers, it will be the goal of keeping his 3-5 Dragons on pace for a .500 campaign.
Both teams are coming off losses with St. John dropping a 48-21 decision to Sciotoville Community School, while Cameron fell, 40-20, to Clay-Battelle.
"The kids played hard last week against Clay-Battelle, and I am just very proud of how they have played all season long," Rogers said. "We have played some tough teams and we have hung in there, we come out and line up with everybody on Friday night.
The Irish, who have scored 77 points in eight outings, actually had their highest scoring output of the season with last week's 21. However, two of those scores did come on kickoff returns of 75 yards by freshman Cameron Opic and 76 yards from sophomore Kyle Coppa.
Senior quarterback Dario Paolina was limited to 14 yards passing on the cold, rainy afternoon while Opic had four rushes for 52 yards and Coppa added a 40-yard scoring burst for the other St. John touchdown. In all, the Irish finished with 104 total yards, while allowing 501, and giving up 17 points more than their average of 31 going into the contest.
"That team might be 0-8, but dang it they are about as good a 0-8 team as you are going to find," Rogers said. "They have their typical attitude which is to be feisty and play hard until the end. I know it hurts them that numbers are down, but they execute well and they are an outfit that you just cannot take lightly."
Logan Routt, who has no trouble seeing over the offensive line or into the secondary with his 6-foot, 8-inch frame, is the quarterback, while the Dragons will look to Hunter Yoders to grind out yardage on the ground.
"Cameron is a good football team that is better than their record might indicate," Paolina said. "And they have a very good coach that has been there for a while. There is no question that we are going to have to play our very best to compete and win.
"But they are also a team that we have matched up against pretty well the last few years and that is encouraging. While it is always a battle, we have actually won two of the last three against them.
"Getting a win is the biggest thing. We preach to the kids every day to work hard, be consistent and show up ready to go and they have a great work ethic. I believe our biggest problem is the fact that we do have a small line and we have really struggled with teams that are bigger than us, but again, I think it is a good matchup with Cameron in that regard as well."