Hammond, Baldwin (WQOW) -- Local rivals St. Croix Central and Baldwin-Woodville will meet Friday night on the Blackhawks' home field.
The Panthers finished in a three-way tie for second place last season in the Dunn-St. Croix, and advanced to Level 3 of the WIAA Division 4 playoffs, losing to eventual state champ Somerset. SCC did graduate plenty of key players from that team.
"It's gone pretty well so far, all the young players are doing a great job, stepping into their roles and working hard at their new stuff," says Panthers senior wide receiver Dante Carlson, "if we keep working hard and even harder than we have been, then we'll have a good shot at doing a lot of good things."
"There's always some pressure when you're stepping in when there's guys previously starting ahead of you that you know were good," says Panthers junior quarterback Jason Matteson,"and we just need to work hard as a team, keep the chemistry going, and keep our tempo up, because the tempo, I don't think other teams can play where we're going, speedwise."
Baldwin-Woodville went 2-5 in the Middle Border last season, and 3-6 overall, but the Blackhawks return a lot of experience.
"Last year we had four seniors," says Baldwin-Woodville head coach Dan Keefer, "so that meant a lot of the younger kids got playing time, and we got better throughout the year, there's no question about that. Our league was tough last year, we feel like, you know what, we were better than what our record was last year and we're bringing a lot of people back, so we're excited."
The returning players think Baldwin-Woodville can improve its record.
"We have a lot of faith in ourselves and our coaches," says Baldwin-Woodville senior running back/linebacker Joe Nawrocki, "and we just got to put our trust in them sometimes, too, you know, tell us what's best for the team for the week and what changes need to be made, but I have a really good feeling that we'll get the job done this year and make sure we have a really great year."
"I think it's been great, we've got a lot of competitions going on," says Baldwin-Woodville senior offensive & defensive lineman Travis Shackleton, "guys are really fired up, and ready to get after it this year."
St. Croix Central's game at Baldwin-Woodville kicks off at 7:00 P.M., Friday.
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