By STEFAN GESTWICKI
OBSERVER Sports Reporter
Dunkirk will wrap up the home portion of its schedule, tonight at 7:30 p.m. with a must-win game against Springville at Karl Hoeppner Field.
"If we win, we go 3-2 in the division," Dunkirk coach Rob Genco said. "The way it looks right now, with the point differential, a win would almost guarantee us a spot in the playoffs. If we lose, we can't make the playoffs."
It's that simple for the Marauders.
They'll have to take care of business against a dangerous Springville team.
"They have two very good running backs," Genco continued. "One of them is the quarterback and the other is the halfback. They run veer options and they run them very well. Those two guys do most of the damage."
There's no question that Dunkirk's priority in this game is defense, one week after giving up 44 points in a loss to Cheektowaga.
"That's what the focus was all week," Genco added. "Springville went into Pioneer and I don't think Pioneer was quite ready for their veer option. Their fakes are really good. We need to be able to play assignment football and everybody has to do their jobs.
"Yes, we gave up 44 points," he continued. "You just trust that it isn't going to happen again."
On offense, the Marauders will continue to unleash their newest weapon - tailback Nick Barlette.
"I said at the beginning of the year that Zack Torrain was our best running back and Barlette was a nice weapon," Genco said. "He needed to develop as a runner. Credit to him, he's done everything right. Now he's one of the best running backs, not just on our team, but in the league."
Barlette went for 141 yards and a pair of touchdowns on just eight carries against Cheektowaga.
"He gives us a dimension that I was always hoping he could be," Genco added of the junior running back. "He can break the big play. If he gets a seam, he's gone."
In a game that the Marauders simply have to win, being at home is a huge benefit for Dunkirk.
"You don't want to go to Springville and play down there," Genco agreed. "There aren't many teams that go there and play well. We're really happy that this one is home.
"We're excited," he concluded. "It's our homecoming. There will be a lot of distractions but everyone will be fired up."