The Cambridge Springs Blue Devils travel south to Wilmington High School tonight to face Sharpsville — the other Blue Devils — in a Mercer-Crawford County match-up that has provided some of the most exciting games in D-10 playoff history.

This time, Cambridge sports a 5-3 Region 1, 5-5 overall mark, while Sharpsville heads to New Wilmington with a 6-2 Region 1, 7-3 overall record.

Both are in third place in their region. Last year, Sharpsville ended Cambridge’s season with a 49-6 rout in the first round of the playoffs.

Cambridge Springs head coach Walt Nottingham is in his 23rd season at the helm of the Blue Devils, and he hasn’t changed much in his philosophy.

I guess old habits die hard.

“We have a good chance to win if we have good drives, keep the ball and play our type of game,” he said.

Good drives like the one his boys had against visiting Iroquois in an 8-7 win Oct. 20.

The Spa moved the ball 67 yards on 16 plays, including two fourth-down conversions and one on third down, chewing up eight minutes, six seconds on the clock and finishing with a scoring dive by Josh Hobson from one yard out.

Hobson also added the two-point conversion as part of his usual workhorse performance.

Nottingham hopes for more of the same in what could possibly be Hobson’s final game, along with running mate Austin Tapper.

“(Hobson and Tapper) have carried the load offensively all year for us,” he said. “They are both experienced backs. They’ve been solid contributors for a long time. It is important to get off to a good start with them.”

Hobson is the No. 4 rusher in the district with 1,267 yards on 230 touches this season. He has scored eight touchdowns along the way.

Tapper, Nottingham’s catch-you-off-guard back, has amassed 645 yards on 109 carries with nine touchdowns.

Most likely, Cambridge Springs’ most frustrating loss was to Saegertown in Week 9, falling 35-24 after taking a quick 24-point lead with the potent ground game.

With the Wing-T, the same offensive set Sharpsville employs, the Panthers were able to move the ball with relative ease, scoring 35 straight points.

“They are more of a running than passing Wing-T,” Nottingham said in contrast of the Saegertown’s pass-heavy charge. “They have a good-size line and a good running quarterback who can also throw if necessary.

“The key is for everybody to stay home and not run after their fakes. The guards take you to where the play is going, so we will be focusing on the line.”

The Sharpsville offense is paced by running back Aaron Reddix, who is 27th in the district with 120 carries for 681 yards and 10 touchdowns.

Following Reddix is Tim Siege with 562 yards and six scores.

Quarterback Jarryd Summers has 32 completions with 90 attempts for 389 yards and four scores.

With five losses, and two straight heading into the playoffs (35-24 to Saegertown; 27-6 to Mercyhurst Prep), it is possible to think of Cambridge as an underdog in the Class A bracket.

But Nottingham is not completely convinced.

“I guess we’re an underdog, so we can get some motivation from that,” he said. “If you’re not motivated enough to play a playoff game, then you never will be motivated.”

Sharpsville’s three losses came at the hands of Region 1 champion West Middlesex (27-20), Lakeview (42-6) and Brookville (28-7).

The common opponent for the two teams is West Middlesex, to whom the Spa fell 42-6.

Cambridge Springs’ other losses were a 6-0 Week 1 skid against Union-Rimersburg and a 20-14 slobber-knocker against Eisenhower.

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