The Albion College football team can clinch the MIAA Championship with a win over Adrian College this weekend.
With a season-opening three game losing streak now an afterthought, the Britons are riding the momentum of four victories in a row — And the conference title is within reach. Albion finished in second place behind Trine University the past two years.
For strong safety Derrick Jackson, Allegan 5th-year senior, those circumstances only make this opportunity sweeter.
“A lot of the guys on the team have been through the seasons where we got second place two years in a row,” Jackson said. “Everyone’s excited. It’s a goal we’ve been working towards all season. Even though we take it week to week, it’s in the back of everyone’s mind that we want to win the game to get to the league championship.”
The Britons will travel to Adrian on Oct. 29, with kickoff set for 4 p.m. The Bulldogs sport a perfect 7-0 record (3-0 MIAA), sharing the top spot in the conference standings with Albion, 4-3 (4-0 MIAA). The Britons last MIAA Championship was in 2005.
When Albion has the ball, they will be looking for All-MIAA running back Clinton Orr, Buchanan junior, to have a big game. Last season he set the MIAA single season record for all purpose running yards with 241.3 yards per game.
However, Orr had struggled to replicate that type of performance this year, before enjoying breakout games the last two weeks, including 236 yards rushing against Hope College, and a 144 yard effort against Olivet College.
“I was trying to make things happen on my own instead of setting up my blocks,” Orr said. “Now I’m just trusting my lineman and executing my assignment.”
The Britons beat the Adrian 38-21 at home last season. Orr ran for 236 yards in that game, including a 68-yard touchdown. The Bulldogs hefty 4-4 defensive scheme will pack eight players near the line of scrimmage, in an attempt to slow down Albion’s running game.
On defense the Britons will have to stop Justin Hemm, Adrian’s big-play wide receiver. Hemm is second in the MIAA with 94.7 yards receiving per game. That assignment will go to cornerback Chris Greenwood, Detroit senior, an NCAA Division III Second Team All-America selection last season.
Although Greenwood has just two interceptions this year, that statistic is misleading. Most teams have avoided throwing the ball anywhere near him.
“Opponents don’t usually throw to Chris at all,” Jackson said of his defensive backfield teammate. “The credit goes to him. He has good technique and works hard.”
Much like Albion, the Bulldogs have fallen just short of a conference championship the past two seasons. Adrian tied the Britons for second place in the MIAA in 2009 and 2010.
“They (Adrian) have been close but have not quite got over the hump,” Craig Rundle, head football coach, said. “But this year they are playing better; They are undefeated.”
Now both teams are on the cusp of earning MIAA glory.