Fairfield, Mason in search of computer points in GMC chase

Fairfield linebacker Hunter Nunnelley (36) knocks the ball loose from Lakota West quarterback Malik Grove (3) during Friday night's game at Lakota West High School Oct. 11, 2013. Lakota West defeated Fairfield 35-3. NICK DAGGY / STAFF
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Fairfield linebacker Hunter Nunnelley (36) knocks the ball loose from Lakota West quarterback Malik Grove (3) during Friday night's game at Lakota West High School Oct. 11, 2013. Lakota West defeated Fairfield 35-3. NICK DAGGY / STAFF

Jason Krause doesn’t just look at this week’s matchup against Mason as just another important Greater Miami Conference game.

It’s a chance for his Fairfield High School football team to gain valuable points in the Ohio High School Athletic Association computer ratings that determine playoff positioning.

Fairfield (5-1, 3-0 GMC), one of two teams still unbeaten in GMC play, currently sits at No. 5 in Division I, Region 4, with Mason (4-2, 2-1) following in sixth. The two teams meet Friday at Mason in the Comets’ homecoming game as they look to bounce back from a 30-16 loss to Colerain — the Indians’ foe in Week 8.

“It’s a big test for us,” Krause said. “It’s a game on the road. They lost two tough ones to Moeller and Colerain. We’re both playing well and hoping to make the playoffs, so there’s a lot of points at stake for both teams.”

The matchup pits the GMC’s top rushing offense vs. the top rushing defense.

Led by Matt Sora’s 639 yards rushing and Michael Kopaygorodsky’s 303 (both also have six touchdowns), Mason boasts a conference-best 233.2 yards per game on the ground, while Fairfield allows a miniscule 62.5 rushing yards per game. Something has to give Friday.

“They have one of the best defenses in the conference, if not the best, so it’s going to be a great challenge,” Mason coach Brian Castner said. “Their offense is putting up a lot of points, special teams is playing well the last couple games, so they are pretty much hitting all phases. We have to hope our offense gets off to a great start and makes it a good game.”

Fairfield’s defense starts with the dominant play of linemen Malik Vann, Greg Fitzpatrick and Alvin Burke, but when teams are forced to pass, the Indians have players like Michigan State commit Josiah Scott in the secondary to clean up.

That could create problems for Mason quarterback Preston Hutchinson, an Eastern Michigan commit who has 707 yards passing and seven touchdowns but has struggled with turnovers, including five fumbles and five interceptions. Scott leads the conference with five interceptions, and Vann has a GMC-best four sacks.

“They start with their run game, so to have a chance, we have to slow them down,” Krause said. “I don’t know if we can stop them, but our defense has to slow them and force (Hutchinson) to do something that’s not his cup of tea. If we do that, I feel good about what we can do.”

Mason’s defense isn’t too shabby either, ranking third in the GMC while surrendering just 259.3 yards and 13.7 points per game. Jalen Johnson and Will Adams have combined for five interceptions, and Cole Pearce has two fumble recoveries.

The Indians’ offense is paced by quarterback Aaron Carmack, a first-year starter who has 1,113 yards passing and 10 touchdowns with just one interception.

“We go as our quarterback play goes, so if he does things well, we do well,” Krause said. “If he is struggling, we are struggling. We would like to run the ball better than we are, but who doesn’t? I’m really impressed with how their defense plays. They make a lot of things happen, and it’s not going to be easy.”

Friday’s game

What: Fairfield (5-1, 3-0 GMC) at Mason (4-2, 2-1 GMC), 7 p.m.

Where: Dwire Field at Atrium Stadium, 6370 Mason Montgomery Road, Mason

Last meeting: Mason won 13-0 in 2015