Villa Angela-St. Joseph took care of business on Oct. 18 at Bedford Bearcat Stadium with a resounding 50-13 victory over host Trinity.
Now, the Vikings have two weeks left that are anything but business as usual.
VASJ got defensive touchdowns from Tremayne Harvell and Howard Hill, and big games from Marvelle Ross and Tre'Von Williams to defeat Trinity and remain unbeaten in NCL White play at 3-0 to take over sole possession of first place in the league race. However, at 6-2 overall and still on the outside looking in for a spot in the Division VI playoffs (No. 10), Week 9 and Week 10 against St. Thomas Aquinas and Cleveland Central Catholic, respectively, are must-win situations for Coach John Storey and company.
"This next week against St. Thomas Aquinas is a playoff game as far as we are concerned, and that is how we are approaching it," Storey said. "Our guys are smart and they know what is at stake now."
VASJ started quickly with a two-play, 40-yard opening drive capped off by a 20-yard touchdown run by Ross for a 7-0 lead. Trinity (2-6) appeared poised to tie the game, but Harvell intercepted a pass and returned it 102 yards for a TD and gave the Vikings a game-changing 14-0 advantage.
"You could see our sideline get excited and he did a great job and made a great play," Storey said of Harvell's return.
Harvell said there is no way to erase the two losses earlier in the season to Euclid and Kirtland, but VASJ has plenty at stake with two weeks left.
"We messed up twice this year, but we are rolling now and we have to keep this momentum going," Harvell said. "We got two defensive scores tonight and the offense is clicking. We have to keep it going and win these next two games."
Trinity quarterback Kyle McSweeney threw a touchdown pass to cut the VASJ lead to 14-6, but the Vikings responded with a drive that ended with a Williams TD run to push the edge back out to 21-6 at halftime.
Ross got back into the end zone multiple times and Hill took a fumble back for a score in a dominant second half for VASJ to put the win away convincingly.
"At this time of the year, you see the offensive line doing their job and the offense in general getting better," Storey said. "We said this next game is our first playoff game and that is what we are focused on as a team."