The coaches agree. With sole possession of first place awaiting the winner, today's Western Maryland-Dickinson game is the biggest of the season for both teams.
At least, until next week it is.
"This is a big game," Green Terrors coach Dale Sprague said. "But we're not so near-sighted just to see it. If you have four games left, you've got to win every one of them."
Western Maryland (3-0 in the Centennial Football Conference and 4-1 overall) comes into the game with a half-game lead over three-time defending champion Dickinson (2-0, 4-0). Kickoff will be at 1:30 p.m. in Carlisle, Pa.
But this 60 minutes will not determine the champion.
"I think in the conference this year, like last year, you can still win the championship with a loss," Dickinson coach Ed Sweeney said. "There's so much balance."
Last season, the Green Terrors and Red Devils met in a similar situation. Dickinson came into the game 2-0 in the CFC and Western Maryland was 2-1. Western Maryland won the game, 14-7, and took over the conference lead.
The Green Terrors held first place for about a month.
On the final day of the season, Western Maryland lost, 31-21, to Johns Hopkins and Dickinson beat Ursinus, 13-0. Once again, Dickinson won the title. The Red Devils won outright championships in 1989 and 1990 and shared first place in 1988 with Franklin & Marshall. Dickinson is 31-3-2 since the start of the 1988 season.
"They're a force," Sprague said. "We haven't found a weakness yet. They don't have one. We've told our kids all week this game is going to boil down to field position and execution."
Tailback Eric Frees, who gained 114 yards and scored the winning touchdown with 52 seconds to play in the Dickinson game last season, probably will be a factor again. Last week, Frees gained 213 yards and scored on runs of 69 and 43 yards against Randolph-Macon.
"We haven't stopped him yet," Sweeney said. "I think the key is not to give up the big run."