Northeastern hosts D-VII 10th-ranked Mechanicsburg (5-1, 1-0) in a key OHC North battle on Friday night at Conover Field. The Jets, who are also celebrating homecoming this weekend, are seeking their first victory over the Indians since 2011.
“I know (Mechanicsburg) is going to be extremely well-coached and they’re going to be extremely confident,” said Jets coach Jake Buchholtz. “Our goal going into the season is that we wanted to win the OHC North and it goes through Mechanicsburg until proven otherwise. Our boys are looking forward to the opportunity.”
Earlier this season as the Jets entered overtime at Greeneview tied at 14, it was no secret who was getting the ball. Houseman scored on a 20-yard run to give the Jets a 21-14 lead and they held on for a 21-20 victory.
“It’s really hard to take the ball out of his hands,” Buchholtz said. “More times than not, when we run the option, we tell him he’ll never go wrong keeping it because we know he’s going to make a play. He’s been that way the last four years and it’s really paid off for us.”
Houseman has thrown for nearly 5,000 yards and 47 TDs in his career, completing 64.8 percent of his passes. He’s also rushed for more than 2,500 yards and 26 TDs. Defensively, he’s accumulated more than 300 tackles during his career. He also serves as the Jets punter.
“He’s just a natural leader,” Buchholtz said. “Some kids have it and some kids you’ve got to get it out of them. He’s been a coach on the field even since he was a freshman. A lot of the older kids kind of gravitated towards him. He’s a very smart football player, a smart kid in the classroom. You can tell he’s got good genetics and a lot of that stuff comes second nature. (The coaches) can look at each other sometimes and say ‘It was all coaching,’ but there’s a lot of things he’s going to do that’s just him being an athlete.”
While Houseman prefers the defensive side of the ball, Buchholtz said he’s grown into a true quarterback over the last three years.
“He’s a knucklehead where he’s going to say ‘I’m a backer,’ or that he’s a defensive guy,” Buchholtz said. “He’s come a long way. He’s the smartest kid on the field. Everything runs through (Houseman). He’s come a long way from his sophomore or junior year to where he is now. He’s a true quarterback. He could play quarterback in college if that’s what he wanted to do.”
Houseman credited his teammates for working hard to get the program to this point. The Jets senior class went 2-8 as freshmen and have won 17 games over the past three years, including 7-4 last season.
“It’s exciting to see our progress,” Houseman said. “We bought into what we’re trying to do with the program. We have a good set of kids and we grind. We’ve worked super hard to get where we are today. We’ve got a big game on Friday. We’ve just got to go out and perform like we know how.”
The goal for Houseman is simple: Keep playing football for Northeastern as long as possible. The Jets are seeking their first OHC title since 2003 and hope to break the program’s 0-9 playoff record.
“We want to change that for sure,” Houseman said. “We had a taste of that last season, we just came up a little short last year. We’re hungry for sure. We want to change history. We want to go undefeated, but we’ve got to go 1-0 every week to do that. Come playoff time, we want to be 1-0 there. That’s how you keep playing football.”
Week 7 Schedule
Springboro at Springfield
Catholic Central at Cedarville
Bellefontaine at Shawnee
Mechanicsburg at Northeastern
Kenton Ridge at Jonathan Alder
Tecumseh at London
Southeastern at Greenon
Graham at Northwestern
Indian Lake at Urbana
Triad at Fairbanks
Greeneview at Madison Plains
West Liberty-Salem at West Jefferson
(All games begin at 7 p.m.)