A district championship is up for grabs Friday night when Muenster hosts Petrolia in the regular season finale.
Muenster (9-0 overall, 3-0 District 7-2A-2) would win the district title and finish an undefeated regular season with a win against the Pirates in just the Hornets’ third home game of the season.
Petrolia (8-1, 2-1) would take the title with a win and a Windthorst loss to Era. If the Pirates and Windthorst both win, there would be a three-way tie with Muenster for first place.
Muenster coach Brady Carney said going undefeated would mean a lot to the Hornets.
“It’s one of those things we talked about,” Carney said. “Making sure it meant something to them to go down as one of the few teams in Muenster’s history that has gone undefeated in a regular season. I think it’s very important to them, and I think it’s motivation to go out and play hard Friday, as well.”
The last time Muenster finished the regular season undefeated was in 2017. The Hornets went on to win the state championship with a 16-0 record.
A win would also mean a district championship after finishing second to Windthorst a year ago. Although the Hornets enter each season aiming to play into December, Carney said the district title is always their first goal.
“Being in a district with the defending state champions, we knew it would be tough,” Carney said. “The boys have done what I’ve asked them to do up to this point, now they just gotta do the same thing again for one more week… They set themselves up to do that, just gotta take care of business on Friday.”
Muenster handled Petrolia easily last season, but this is an improved Pirates team with most of last year’s starters back. This experienced team led Windthorst 14-12 at halftime and played the Trojans close for three quarters before the Windthorst finally pulled away in the fourth.
The Pirates are also big. They have players weighing 240 pounds or more at quarterback, offensive line, running back and more.
Carney compared their size and physicality to Windthorst. He says the way they play is what stands out most compared to last year.
“Watching them on film, I think they just play harder,” Carney said. “Still big, just like they were last year, but I feel like they’re moving better, they look stronger, look like they’re just playing harder. That’s the one thing that stands out to me on film, is what (Petrolia coach Byron West has) done with those guys, I guess, to motivate them or get them to play harder.”
Regardless of the result, Petrolia will provide Muenster one more challenging game before the playoffs. Carney said the most important thing now is coming out of the game healthy, but provided that happens, the challenge should help better prepare the Hornets for the postseason.
Carney said to beat Petrolia, Muenster needs to clean up some things on offense and match the defensive and special teams performance the Hornets had against Windthorst.
“The main thing for us is playing fast and physical and with effort on defense,” Carney said. “That’s kind of who we want to be as a defensive-minded team, and I thought we were that against Windthorst. I think it’s going to take that same kind of effort this week against Petrolia.”
Kickoff at Hornet Stadium is set for 7 p.m.