In the midst of everything that playoff football brings, coupled with increased responsibilities in my life, it wasn’t until I was in my car on the way to cover Sparta-Reedsburg last Friday night that I realized I had not put out a Week in Review for the final week of the season, nor a Level One recap. Putting this oversight in the rearview, I give you an in-depth look at the seven games with area teams competing.
HOLMEN @ #7 (B.S.D.) HARTFORD (6pm on ESPN La Crosse 105.5)
Heading into the postseason, Holmen football found itself in an all-too-familiar situation. The Vikings were looking at another long road trip for their Level One playoff game following a loss to Onalaska in Week Nine that gave the Hilltoppers the outright MVC title. Not many people I spoke to in the week leading up to the Watertown game gave the Vikings much of a shot, largely due to the play during the regular season of Goslings’ quarterback Ethan Pauly. But Holmen responded the same way they did when facing Johnny Davis this year, daring Pauly to go for that big play which never happened; Pauly did throw for 278 yards on 55 percent passing but also threw two picks and never got a touchdown pass. So, with a 36-10 dismantling on their playoff resume, the Vikings now make another long trek this week against seventh-ranked and undefeated Hartford. Coach Travis Kowalski told me that the Oriole offense is almost identical to what Watertown runs, and I do agree. However, what the Orioles have that I don’t think the Goslings did is a playmaker receiver in Joe Kasprzak; number 11 averages 115 yards per game and just under 21 yards per catch in a pass-happy offense. Oriole head coach John Redders really likes what Kasprzak and quarterback Jacob Frantl have been able to accomplish this year, saying it’s one of the differences with his 2019 program that have propelled them to an undefeated 10-0 record. Holmen does have a lot of experience this year against great quarterbacks, however, and after last week shouldn’t be entering this game with any fear about the prospect of defending the pass. When you listen to the game tomorrow night on ESPN La Crosse 105.5, keep an ear out as well for Oriole outside linebacker Justus Ojo; he leads the team with 15 sacks this year and had two in last week’s 31-0 win over Oregon.
AQUINAS @ RV (M.S.D.) G-E-T
When Sparta lost last week to Reedsburg, Sports Lead and Pizza Oven Postgame Show host John Pappadopoulos asked me on Monday if I would go to Galesville this week to cover the GET-Aquinas game for the show; I agreed right away, knowing there will be plenty of interest in this game. It features two programs that present matchup conundrums for each opposing coach; you have a Redhawks team that steamrolled through their only season in the South Central Conference on the feet of Bryce Burns and Luke Vance (3100-plus yards rushing this year as a team), and an Aquinas squad that if you remove their tough losses to yearly powerhouses Mineral Point and Lancaster have allowed under 10 points per game on average in their other eight contests. One factor we’ll have to wait until tomorrow to learn will be if Blugold quarterback Gavin Wetzel will be healthy for the game after leaving early in Friday’s 28-7 win over Platteville. Freshman backup Jackson Flottmeyer did a great job at game managing against the Hillmen last week and the ground game churned out 312 yards and three scores, but GET presents a host of problems for both opposing offenses and defenses. They’re holding opponents to an average of just 11.2 points per game through all ten games played, and despite trailing to Marshall early last week, it was only a matter of time before a big play came from either Burns or Vance, and Luke provided with 240 yards and three touchdowns. I’m not sure if the Blugold defense can overcome the big play or two that is likely to occur tomorrow night.
ARCADIA @ PRAIRIE DU CHIEN
The winner of the above matchup will face the winner of this one. Earlier this year I said Arcadia had the potential to be a sleeper this year, and while they definitely went through their ups and downs in the SWC, here they are about to play November football. I know a few Blugold faithful are hoping for an Aquinas-PDC Level Three game that would be a rematch of the Week One 7-6 Blackhawk win, but the Raiders will certainly be hungry for some revenge of their own. In Week Five, these two met down at Prairie, where a 13-6 Blackhawk game at halftime turned into 30-6 by the three minute mark of the fourth courtesy of great quarterback play from Dylan Coleman and 159 yards receiving for Mason Kramer. Arcadia QB Chase Patzner was spotty in that game completeing 38 percent of his passes and throwing two picks, but was rolling last week with 338 yards and three TD’s. If Patzner and wideout Michael Schweistal establish a connection early, this game should be very close.
PEPIN/ALMA @ BANGOR
I don’t think anyone who lives in this area or pays even a lick of attention to high school football believes Bangor is losing any earlier than Level Three, but for the sake of playing devil’s advocate, let’s examine the Dairyland runners-up from Pepin/Alma. Lane Wieczorek is a 1,471 yard rusher who made up half of the potent running duo with teammate Bryce Quinton last week against Eleva-Strum. They’ve been fairly consistent on the ground, they have two quality wins over E-S, and only have one fairly bad loss to Elmwood/Plum City from way back in Week One. But at the end of the day, there just isn’t really any scenario I could see where Bangor falls tomorrow night barring something truly bizarre.
TURTLE LAKE @ BLAIR-TAYLOR
The reason I mentioned in the last paragraph that no one thinks the Cardinals will falter before Level Three is because of who their potential opponent in that game will be. The Wildcats took the Dairyland this year by virtue of their multidimensional offense which never has had to rely too heavily on one facet. Starting in Week Three’s win over C-FC, sophomore Cain Fremstad has been the starting quarterback for all of one pass attempt, before which he shared snaps with junior Matthew Waldera. And other than a close loss to Whitehall, Blair-Taylor’s offense has mostly rolled along through their competition during that stretch. I do, however, think Turtle Lake shouldn’t be overlooked since they are even more balanced and of their three losses, none were by more than eight points. Also, like all of these games I’ve listed that feature a lot of passing, weather will likely be a factor due to a forecasted rain/snow mix.
MSHSL CLASS 4A
KASSON-MANTORVILLE @ WINONA
I don’t care if you’re a high school, college, or professional football team. When your defense gives up 251 yards rushing and six ground scores to go with three touchdown passes, you’re not going to win many games. That was definitely the case last week when Faribault found themselves down 21-0 to Winona after one quarter, and things snowballed from there into an eventual 62-0 abominable snowman of a shutout. The Winhawks in my opinion are one of the most underrated teams in our area despite their undefeated record and number five ranking in Class 4A. Unfortunately when you’re very Wisconsin heavy, as our prep coverage tends to be, sometimes Minnesota schools slip through the cracks. But tomorrow night, Jacob Nibbelink, Trevor Pomeroy, and a highly opportunistic Winhawk defense will likely feast on Kasson-Mantorville en route to a Section 1AAAA title.
MSHSL CLASS 2A
CHATFIELD @ #1 (2A) CALEDONIA
I’m writing this on Halloween, and the Chatfield Beavers should be afraid, they should be VERY afraid of this Caledonia squad. They pounded St. Charles last week 57-6, and didn’t even play their first round game against Winona Cotter via a forfeit. Receiver JaShon Simpson secured two of Noah King’s five scoring passes, and even though, again, the weather won’t exactly be favorable for that kind of night again, King will just shift to his ground game to burn defenses that way. I know it’s a broken record at this point, but this current 64, and likely soon 65, game winning streak is absolutely unreal. Perhaps the craziest part of the streak: no team has gotten within a score of the Warriors (the closest anyone has been able to get was 14-0 when Dover-Eyota likely made head coach Carl Fruecte sweat more than he has at any point since this all started back on August 22nd of 2015).
For updates on future articles, scores and news from around the Coulee Region and more, follow me on Twitter: http://twitter.com/AdamRoberts1055