Johns Hopkins coach Jim Margraff generally avoids putting too much hype on a single regular season game. But he didn't try to cloud the significance of Saturday's contest at Centennial Conference rival Ursinus.
Win and the No. 9 Blue Jays (7-0 overall and 6-0 in the league) would own head-to-head tiebreakers over the Bears (6-1, 5-1) and Muhlenberg (6-1, 5-1) with just two games remaining in their quest for a sixth consecutive Centennial title.
Lose and Johns Hopkins would drop into a first-place tie with Ursinus and lose the head-to-head tiebreaker.
"Certainly in our conference, we talk about ... every week being a championship week, but this one is literally that," Margraff said Wednesday morning. "They have one conference loss right now, and if they beat us, we'd be tied in the conference, but they'd be ahead in head-to-head competition. So for us, it's a championship-type atmosphere."
If the Blue Jays were to lose, that would also open the door for the Mules, whose only conference loss came from Johns Hopkins in a 42-26 defeat on Sept. 27. There are several scenarios that could come into play, but Margraff said the formula for his players is simple.
"Whoever wins this one is fully in control of their own destiny," he said. "That's where we want to be right now."
Regardless of the importance surrounding Saturday's contest, Margraff said the players' mindset and attitude should be no different from the previous seven weeks of preparation.
"We try to preach to our guys that every week should be a championship game, that if we don't have that type of excitement and that if we don't give that type of preparation, we're cheating ourselves," he said. "So this just makes it easier in a sense. They're still young guys and they read stuff and hear stuff. As a coach, you try to teach and combat that.
"This here is easy. In a sense, whoever wins is in first place and has the inside track toward postseason play. Rather than deal with all of that stuff, we just make it very simple. Let's be 1-0 this week."