Sometimes, when you are on the grind of a nine-week high school football season, it’s a good idea to mix things up and try something a little different. Well, as we near the final Friday night of regular season prep football, I thought I would change it up this week. Every week, I’ve been looking back at the week that was and saving a preview for the week ahead to the final part of my blog. But this week, I want to commit fully to reviewing the week ahead. There are a number of intriguing storylines to look at, and with the playoffs right around the corner, there are also a number of highly meaningful games to play. Let’s dive in:
HOLMEN @ ONALASKA (6pm on ESPN La Crosse 105.5)
Last week, cold and snowy conditions had an impact in most of the area’s games, but I didn’t think it would really effect a Holmen team that can grind it out with the best in the state. Well, I don’t know if it was the cold weather or just an opportunistic Spartan defense, but the Vikings runners put the ball on the ground three times in a 25-20 loss to Sparta. That highly touted rush defense for Holmen also struggled against both Cole Wisniewski and Nick Kent, surrendering over 100 yards and a touchdown to each. Despite all this, the Vikings were able to at least make this a game after falling behind 25-7 entering the fourth quarter, and Brett Holden did go for 137 on the ground and a score. This week, another vaunted defense hosts the Vikings in Onalaska; the Hilltoppers just finished proving all their doubters wrong by completely dominating La Crosse Central 41-0 and holding Johnny Davis to a staggering 20 yards on three completions and 38 yards rushing. Onalaska doesn’t get a ton of attention spent on its defense due to the passing and rushing weapons of Austin Larson and Nathan Lubinsky respectively, but in conference play the D has surrendered just 26 total points. In last year’s meetup, Holmen QB Ryland Wall was the MVP with four TD’s on the ground; I’m uncertain if any one Viking will hit that total this year, or if the Vikings will even get to that point total period.
SPARTA @ MARSHFIELD (6pm on ESPN Sparta 102.1)
At 5-1 in the MVC, Sparta has done just about all it could have hoped for in conference play this year short of defeating Onalaska, who they played extremely closely in a 21-14 defeat. Now it’s all about playoff seeding against the Tigers of Marshfield. When I spoke to Onalaska head coach Tom Yashinsky this week, he mentioned how much of a difference an 8-1 record makes versus a 7-2 record. The Spartans will have to contend with the Hilltoppers, as well as a currently undefeated Medford, a historic powerhouse in Menomonie who likely is dropping down to Division Three this year and will overtake the void filled by Rice Lake (it’s shocking to think that the perennially-contending Warriors are just 1-7 this season), a currently 6-2 New Richmond, and even Hayward which I think is well seasoned from playing in a very top-heavy Heart O’ North conference. Couple all this with the fact that you can’t afford to sleep on 5-3 Marshfield which plays a ton of great VFA teams and just had an amazing victory over D.C. Everest, and this will be anything but a cake walk for Coach Dow this week. The O-line played admirably against a previously Iron Curtain-esque Holmen defense, and should that carry over this week, Cole Wisniewski and Nick Kent SHOULD lead Sparta to a win, but it certainly isn’t a guarantee.
ADAMS-FRIENDSHIP @ G-E-T
I don’t believe anyone who actively follows high school football believes the Redhawks are losing this game, especially considering nobody in the South Central Conference has given GET any kind of legitimate challenge. So, with the assumptive SCC champs likely to go 8-1, where does that put the Redhawks in the D4 bracket? Moreover, does it even matter? GET has exited the postseason each of the last two years in the first round, but this year’s rendition is quite considerably better than the 6-3 team from a season ago. That being said, there will be plenty of familiar foes in that grouping once again this year, including Baldwin-Woodville who dispatched GET already once this season 30-24 for the Redhawks’ lone L. At 8-1, a one seed is not out of the realm of possibility, and should set GET up for a deep run.
LA CROSSE CENTRAL @ WEST SALEM
Much like the game above, I don’t know anyone who honestly is picking West Salem to win over Central. But is interesting to see the Red Raiders in a must-win scenario in order to make the postseason given how much preseason praise was given to their offense. There’s no word on Jordan Davis’s potential readiness for the playoffs should Central win, but it would be interesting to see just how far the Davis-to-Davis Connection could take Central should he be available and should the Red Raiders take care of business in West Salem. Expect Panther sophomore QB Noah LaFleur to be passing a lot this week.
MELROSE-MINDORO @ INDEPENDENCE/GILMANTON
The 2019 season has not been an easy ride for the Mustangs. The perennial Dairyland contenders find themselves at 3-3 which puts them right on the fence line. They get a winless Indy/Gilmanton this week which should seal up a postseason berth, but as pointed out by some the Mustangs would likely be a 3-4 team to make the playoffs even with a loss due to their good win earlier this season over Pepin/Alma.
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