Varsity football weekly update
By Paul Lecker
Three local football teams start the road to the state finals in Madison with Level 1 playoff games Friday night.
Auburndale and Spencer/Columbus Catholic will start out on the road, and Stratford will host a game at Tiger Stadium. All three ended the regular season with double-digit victories a week ago.
Here is a look at the first-round matchups, as well as a review of the regular season finales from last week.
Spencer/Columbus Catholic Rockets at Columbus Cardinals
Game time: 7 p.m. Friday
Site: Columbus High School
Records: Spencer/Columbus 6-3; Columbus 7-2
Radio: WOSQ-FM 92.3 and wdlbwosq.com
Last week: Spencer/Columbus scored three first quarter touchdowns and added a safety as it got off to a quick start and routed Osseo-Fairchild 44-22 in its regular season finale last Friday at Spencer High School. Hunter Hildebrandt had a 46-yard touchdown run just 28 seconds into the game to get the Rockets off and running toward a 24-0 lead. Calvin Lenz added two 7-yard touchdown runs, and the Rockets forced a safety in the opening quarter as well. Spencer/Columbus racked up 522 yards rushing on 55 carries and held Osseo-Fairchild to 206 total yards. Columbus beat Lakeside Lutheran 35-19 to secure a playoff spot and finish 3-2 in the Capitol Conference North Division.
This week’s matchup: Columbus features two quarterbacks, namely Jacob Anderson (373 yards passing) and Peyton Henry (345 yards), and a punishing running game. Running back Tarek Herschleb has 881 rushing yards and 14 touchdowns, and Kyle Geiger has 809 yards and 13 touchdowns. The Cardinals made the playoffs last season for the first time since 2005 and have two Division 4 state championships to their credit (1990 and 1996). Spencer/Columbus returns to the playoffs after missing out last season. The Rockets have a 3-5 record in five previous postseason trips. The return of Hildebrandt and Tyler Voda to the offensive backfield was a big plus for Spencer/Columbus as they had not played the previous two games on offense.
Auburndale Apaches vs. Westby Norsemen
Game time: 7 p.m. Friday
Site: Viroqua High School
Records: Auburndale 6-2; Westby 7-2
Last week: Auburndale won a slugfest over Marathon 10-0 to finish the season with a 6-2 record and a 5-2 mark in the Marawood Conference, good enough for a second place tie with Stratford. Wyatt Weiler had a 3-yard touchdown run, and Matt Lang booted a 28-yard field goal as Auburndale accounted for all of the game’s points in the second quarter.Westby was thumped by Black River Falls 37-0 to end up 3-2 in the Coulee Conference.
This week’s matchup: Westby started the season 7-0 before losing to the top two teams in the Coulee Conference the past two weeks by a combined score of 78-10. Prior to their final two games, the Norsemen had allowed more than one touchdown in a game only twice. Westby is in the playoffs for the fourth-straight season, and won one postseason game in the 2011 and 2013 seasons. The Norsemen have three WIAA Division 4 state titles to their credit (1978, 1985, and 1986). Auburndale qualified for the postseason for the third year in a row and ninth time in school history, all coming since 2000. The Apaches are 7-8 in their playoff history and have not won a postseason game since reaching Level 4 in 2002.
Mishicot Indians at Stratford Tigers
Game time: 7 p.m. Friday
Site: Tiger Stadium, Stratford
Records: Mishicot 7-2; Stratford 6-3
Radio: WDLB-AM 1450 and wdlbwosq.com
Last week: Stratford rolled past Pittsville 38-0 to finish the regular season with a 6-3 record and a 5-2 mark in the Marawood Conference, tying Auburndale for second place. Kyle Martin had the big blow for the Tigers, running 96 yards for a touchdown during a 21-point first quarter. Stratford scored all 38 of its points in the first half as Kam Bornbach, Taylor Krall, Jake Reif, and Jake Zuelke each added touchdown runs, and Zuelke booted a 34-yard field goal as time ran out in the half. Mishicot won a nonconference matchup at Port Edwards 46-8.
This week’s matchup: Both teams should be well rested after rolling to big victories a week ago. Mishicot poured it on with 39 first half points in their win. Weston Cracraft, Mason Matthias, and Jack Ribley lead the Indians’ ground game as all three have between 534 and 607 yards and have combined for 17 touchdowns. Quarterback Kyle Curry has thrown for 801 yards and seven touchdowns but has completed just 39 percent of his passes. Stratford is coming off one of its better rushing games as Martin’s big run helped out its average significantly. The Tigers are in the playoffs for the 23rd-straight season, and they have won at least one playoff game in all but two of those seasons (1995 and 2009). Mishicot is in the playoffs for the first time since 2009.
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