St. Ambrose football coach Mike Magistrelli had one message to his team during practice this week: Take care of business.
When the No. 12 Fighting Bees face No. 8 William Penn on Saturday at Brady Street Stadium, they will have their conference and playoff fate in their own hands.
If St. Ambrose wins, it will clinch at least a share of the Mid-States Football Association Midwest Conference title. A win next week at St. Francis (Ill.) would give the Bees their first outright conference title since 2008.
"Our guys are extremely excited to be in this position," Magistrelli said. "From a motivation standpoint, we couldn't be in a better situation. I would be shocked if this was not our best week of practice all year."
First, the Bees (7-1) need to knock off the 8-1 Statesmen, whose only loss is to St. Francis (Ind.) three weeks ago.
"As a team, we're thinking playoffs start now," senior safety John Michaletti said. "We've got to win these next two games if we want to do what we want to do in the playoffs."
William Penn's option offense is led by quarterback Tyler Parsons, who has 946 yards rushing and another 666 through the air. Running back Sean Davis has piled up 836 yards. Combine that with a defense that allows only 2.4 yards per carry and 11.4 points per game, and the Bees know they have a challenge.
"We have to do a great job of giving them different looks," Magistrelli said. "We have to tackle well."
Ambrose comes into the game on a six-game winning streak. Pushing that to seven will be no easy task, but one the Bees are looking forward to.
"It's going to be a fight the next two weeks," Michaletti said. "These two teams left us with a bad taste in our mouth last year. We want to pay them back this year."