Hudson, Somerset, Hammond, Prescott (WQOW) -- Every high school football team dreams of closing out the season in the WIAA State Finals on the turf at Camp Randall Stadium, and that dream is still alive for twelve teams around the area.
Hudson is one of those teams. The Raiders have advanced to Level 3 of the playoffs for the first time in the program's history. Hudson started this regular season by beating Kenosha Bradford, the defending Division 1 state champion. The Raiders continued their season with a one-sided win over Bay Port, Friday in Level 2. Next up, an Appleton North program that's making its 9th straight trip to the playoffs.
"I mean, this is the type of team that makes this run," says Hudson head coach Adam Kowles, "in the playoffs every year, year in and year out, they're always there, and that experience, they've got a great coaching staff, and the players are very disciplined, very sound. You know, offense is balanced, which always gives you fits because you've got to be ready to stop the run, stop the pass. Defense, you know they're physical, they're going to come at you from a lot of different angles, they're really going to attack you on the defensive side of the ball, so we've got our hands full."
"We're just going to try to play until they tell us we can't play any more," Kowles says, "that's our goal. Like I said, get better every week, and you know, we're just going to try to improve every day and the guys know, obviously, they know that hey, this is farther than we've ever been, but let's not stop just because of that, let's keep grinding and keep grinding, and see what we can do."
Hudson will kick it off versus Appleton North, Saturday, at 1:00 P.M., at Goerke Field in Stevens Point.
Somerset made it to the state finals last season in Division 4. The Spartans are on track again, plus they get to play on their home turf in Level 3 of the playoffs. However, they'll be facing a St. Croix Central team that's getting hot at the right time.
"They've really put it together here at the end of the year," says Somerset head coach Bruce Larson, "they're playing very good right now, they've got a great quarterback, a couple of outstanding receivers, they're playing better defense every week, they're going to be a very stiff challenge for us, we're going to have to play well."
Even though Somerset & St. Croix Central play in different conferences, there's plenty of familiarity between the two programs.
"We know them very well," says Panthers head coach Tony DiSalvo, "we practice with them in the summer, we go up there, they come down to our place, we know them very well, we've played them in the playoffs before, a number of times. We're excited for the opportunity, we feel like we're playing pretty good right now, and we're just excited, we know they're very good, they've got a great program, they got great coaches, they got great players, and we just hope to make it a decent game."
The familiarity breeds respect between the Spartans and Panthers.
"They've got a great quarterback," says Somerset wide receiver/linebacker Luke Praschak, "a guy that definitely needs to be contained, another great receiver, we just gotta have a bunch of guys step up this week and cover some guys. I mean, we haven't faced any spread offenses or any of that so that'll be a challenge for us, see what we can do."
"The mindset for us right now is to get ready for Saturday and we gotta come out there," Larson says, "we're going to play our last home game of the season, it'll be the last time our seniors take the field here, their record here has been absolutely incredible, it's a great place to play, we need to take care of Saturday."
The Panthers played Somerset in Level 3 last year, with the Spartans coming away with a 36-0 win. SCC is hoping for better this time around.
"I think that we need to keep it close," says St. Croix Central senior quarterback Carl Moll," and we need to keep it close for as long as we could, last year it got out of hand right away and we can't come back. We gotta keep it close late into the game, and make something happen like we did last week, make something happen when we need to."
"Now, we play the one seed," says DiSalvo, "you gotta go through them sometime, and at this point of the year, everybody's good and we're expecting a heckuva game this Saturday."
SCC's game at Somerset kicks off at 1:00 P.M., Saturday.
In Division 5, Prescott came into the postseason as a 6-seed, but the Cardinals have controlled the line of scrimmage in playoff wins over Cumberland and Elk Mound. Next up, is a trip to face the defending D5 state champ, Colby.
"Taking on Colby, you gotta stay disciplined," says Prescott head coach Matt Smith, "I mean, their tradition, their program, what Coach Rosemeyer's done over there speaks for itself. We gotta take care of the ball, we gotta, you know, not get in a rut early, give ourselves a chance in the second half and take care of the football without turning it over, play sound defense, tackle well out in space, and understand what we need to do to be successful."
"They're a little bit more like us," says Prescott senior running back Sam Smith, "they're a ground and pound team, they're physical. The last two teams we played were more finesse, but Colby's a more physical team so it's going to be more like an MBC-type of game."
"It just comes down to we gotta play well on that Saturday," Matt Smith says, "and not get caught up in the glitz and glamour of their success."
Prescott at Colby is a 1:00 P.M. kick, Saturday.
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