FootballRota at Bitburg Saturday

One team is undefeated this season. The other has won four of the last five DODDS-Europe Division II championships. But both teams need a victory Saturday. The Rota Admirals aren’t long removed from Division III contention, but the abolition of Division III left the team rudderless, resulting in a winless 2013 season. That’s all changed in 2014: the Admirals are 2-0 after opening the season with a 27-0 shutout over Baumholder and a 47-8 win over Alconbury. It’s not all clear sailing, however. Those wins came against two small-school peers, teams that under DODDS-Europe’s former football alignment would be sharing the Division III standings. To truly turn the ship around, Rota needs a win over a legacy Division II squad. And there’s no stronger candidate than this weekend’s opponent. The Bitburg Barons were overthrown as DODDS-Europe champion by Hohenfels last year after a run of four straight titles, and their deteriorating aura took another shot last weekend in a 50-8 loss to Ansbach. That leaves the Barons either humbled - and therefore vulnerable to the Admiral assault - or hungry and poised to enact some damage control by controlling visiting Rota.Vicenza at SHAPE Saturday

DODDS-Europe’s five-game regular season doesn’t allow a team to build much momentum. But the Cougars will need all they can manage for a formidable stretch run. Vicenza will play three games in 20 days starting Saturday, and all three opponents are fellow 2013 postseason qualifiers. After the Spartans, the Cougars will travel to rival Naples on Oct. 4 before wrapping up their regular season against defending champion Hohenfels on Oct. 10. Though their early-season competition doesn’t rise to the level of their upcoming opponents, the Cougars have been above reproach so far, earning a 2-0 start with matching 35-0 shutouts over Aviano and International School of Brussels. SHAPE, last season’s Division II runner-up, will be a motivated foe. The Spartans’ 1-1 record puts them at risk of missing out on a return trip to the postseason.

Cross countryRamstein at Patch Saturday

It doesn’t get much more straightforward than this: last year’s reigning champion and this year’s early-season frontrunner will share the same course this weekend. Ramstein’s John Casey posted the standout time of DODDS-Europe’s opening cross-country weekend with a speedy 17 minutes, 32 seconds on Saturday. Meanwhile, reigning champion Mitchell Bailey of Patch broke a course record at Vilseck’s Rose Barracks with a time of 18:01. Different courses, of course, produce varying times. The only way to measure two runners is to put them on the same starting line. That, conveniently, happens Saturday at Stuttgart, almost exactly a month removed from the European championship race Oct. 25 at Baumholder. The girls’ race, meanwhile, features an equally interesting matchup. Patch’s Julia Lockridge, who set a course record of her own Saturday at Vilseck, takes on Ramstein’s Madison Morse, owner of the 21:14 time that is the class of DODDS-Europe so far this fall.

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