Eau Claire, Rice Lake (WQOW) -- Eau Claire Regis and Rice Lake each stand just one win away from a spot in the WIAA State Finals.
The Ramblers have advanced to Level 4 of the Division 6 playoffs for the fourth time in head coach Bryant Brenner's ten seasons. Regis will face Iola-Scandinavia, Friday night at Goerke Park in Stevens Point. Last season, the Ramblers won their Level 4 game in Chippewa Falls to advance, but Brenner doesn't think it matters that his team has to travel this year.
"You know, we'd play on the moon if it had to be," Brenner says, "we're just grateful to be playing in Level 4 and have a chance to play in a real big game where there's a lot at stake. The good thing is, we're still improving, we were a young team, inexperienced team at the beginning of the year, and we aren't so inexperienced any more, but this group is still hungry to get better and that's what's making it very exciting to be part of it."
Regis was a #3 seed in its bracket, but advanced by knocking out #6 Fall Creek (50-15), #2 Spring Valley (25-6), and #4 Unity (21-8). Iola-Scandinavia is a #1, and is making its deepest playoff run since a state finals appearance in 2007.
In Division 3, Rice Lake has made it to Level 4 for the third time in four years. Last season, the Warriors' playoff run ended with a 35-17 loss to Green Bay Notre Dame in Level 4. Once again, those two programs will meet for the right to go to the state finals.
"It's a team you've faced before, you've prepared for a year ago, so you pull out that stuff, dust it off, and then you watch them on film and decide how much of it's the same and how much is different," says Rice Lake head coach Dan Hill, "the other aspect of it is our kids were looking forward, they want the rematch, we feel we didn't play very well last year and they want a chance to redeem themselves."
Rice Lake vs. Notre Dame will be played in Schofield, Friday night, at D.C. Everest High School.