Blog: Football playoffs begin with interesting stories to watch
It’s that time of year again as the WIAA football playoffs get underway on Friday and Saturday with Level 1 play. As good as the regular season has been for some teams, or maybe as disappointing for a few that may not have reached their regular season goals but still earned a spot in the postseason, it all means little when the ball is kicked off this weekend.
A few of the interesting storylines I’ll keep an eye on:
Athens: The Blue Jays went unbeaten last season in the regular season but lost in the Level 1 playoffs to Marathon. Athens also was unbeaten this season until falling to Owen-Withee in the regular season finale last week. Athens is still a very talented team led by big-play performer Craig Boyd. However, that first round loss last season still has to eat at the players who experienced that disappointment. Expect to see Athens make a statement against Melrose-Mindoro on Friday.
Wausau East: For the second straight season, the Lumberjacks pulled out a playoff berth from the fire with a last-second win against Wausau West in the Log Game. Last year it took overtime for East to get to the playoffs, this year a 69 yard TD drive in the final two minutes and a touchdown with 4 seconds to go to beat the Warriors. East was pounded by Tomah last year in the Level 1 playoffs. The Lumberjacks will need to be better up front this week than they were against West last week. The Warriors outgained East 269-69 on the ground. Those numbers won’t work against Holmen. Coach Steve Jung has done a fantastic job bring East back to relevance, now we’ll see if they take the next step in the playoffs.
D. C. Everest: Everest sneaked into the playoffs with a 4-4 record but were only 5-4 last year before making a run to Level 3 in Division 1. Winners of their last three games as favorites, the Evergreens hasn’t won as an underdog this season. That will need to change Friday at Bay Port. DCE has used two QB’s throughout the season and I’m curious to see if that continues in the playoffs. Big play WR Jared Pankow will be a factor if Everest advances.
SPASH: The Panthers bounced back from missing the postseason a year ago with a share of the FVA-South title and a 7-1 overall record. SPASH wasn’t a dominating team this season but always found a way to win until last week at Marshfield when the Tigers won 42-28. Preble won’t be a pushover at Goerke Field and the Panthers will need to find offensive consistency to advance.
Marshfield: The Tigers are a bit of an enigma coming into the playoffs. Barely surviving Wisconsin Rapids three weeks ago then routed at Menasha where the running clock came into play two weeks ago before the big win against SPASH to earn a share of the VFA-South title. Running back Riley Gebelein has battled injuries but, if completely healthy, is always a game-changer for the Tigers.
Those are just a few of the stories that will be followed during an always fun time of the year!