In high school football, Week Three is usually when we start to see a noticeable divide between the pretenders and contenders. By this point in the season, the excuse of early season jitters wears thin, and the “haves” can be clearly idenitified from the “have nots”. This largely remains the case this season, but there are still some surprises that we cannot one hundred percent for sure say will go one way or another. Let’s dive in:
WHAT WE LEARNED
La Crosse Central is searching for a new receiving talent
Before Friday’s 24-21 Red Raider win over Tomah, all the talk around Central was the Johnny-to-Jordan connection that was expected to make them the most dynamic duo in the area. Now, that duo won’t connect for at least 6 weeks, with News 8’s Jordan Fermstead reporting that Jordan suffered a broken collarbone during the game. Behind Jordan, the wide receiver depth for Central is uncertain, though head coach Tony Servais will likely lean on fellow basketball crossover tight end Terrance Thompson to increase his production. Through three games, Thompson has 135 yards and one score. Andrew Teff and Peter Fleming will also see their production increase dramatically, starting this week when the Red Raiders host conference heavyweight Holmen.
Aquinas is building a running attack around two juniors
The whole Aquinas football story has been a work in progress for quite some time now, and there are still understandable questions for Tom Lee’s program, which hasn’t had a winning season since 2008. But the Blugolds’ two straight wins have been largely due to a bruising run game that is averaging close to 300 yards per game this year. In Friday’s 48-20 handling of Fennimore, juniors Aiden Lee (12 runs, 138 yards, 1 TD) and Will Cambio (12 runs, 151 yards, 3 TDs) couldn’t be stopped, helping get Aquinas to an even 400 yards on the ground. There’s winnable games coming up, starting with a long road trip to Cuba City this week and followed by a home contest against Iowa-Grant.
Bangor’s O-Line will reap the benefits of Scenic Bluffs play
It was observed by others covering the Cardinals’ 57-6 win over Hillsboro, but when you go over the stat sheet it becomes even more obvious. Four different Bangor runners had at least 50 yards on the ground, and there were seven touchdowns scored running the ball. On one of the bigger plays of the night, the Bangor lineman were so quickly up from their stance and blocking downfield, the Hillsboro defense didn’t know what hit them until Mathieu Oesterle had gone 53 yards for a score early in the first quarter. Counter plays are this kind of O-line’s best friend, and you can expect them to occur with great frequency as the Cardinals prepare for a Necedah team that was blanked by Royall 34-0 last week.
WHAT WE STILL DON’T KNOW
Will Tomah QB Justin Gerke be able to sneak into the top-tier of MVC quarterbacks?
With six minutes to go in the fourth quarter, Tomah was down to Central 24-7 and unable to maintain much in the way of a drive save for the opening of the game. But then quarterback Justin Gerke found his primary target Kade Gnewikow for a 54 yard score, followed up forty-five seconds later by another scoring play to Boone Mathison. Although Tomah couldn’t seal the deal, the big play ability of Gerke shouldn’t be slept on. Gerke will get another chance at a big moment as the Timberwolves face a Sparta team this week that early on looked a bit shaky against Logan (amazingly, the Spartans put up just 73 yards on the ground against the Rangers one week after running for 386 against an arguable better Westby run defense).
Who will be the team to strike down the Caledonia giant?
I initially was going to pose this question as “Will Caledonia football ever lose again?”, but thought better about it since, eventually, all giants do fall. But you could fool head coach Carl Fruechte; it’s been 56 games since the Warriors’ last defeat following a thorough 42-7 house-cleaning of St. Charles. That doesn’t figure to change this week against Zumbrota-Mazeppa, and very likely won’t happen until deep in the MSHSL Class AA playoffs (if it happens at all this season).
Who is going to be the team no one expects that makes some noise?
After riding on high on Westby the first two weeks of the season, they took a little step back last week with their third loss to open the year 30-25 at home against Arcadia. Speaking of the Raiders, they have looked decent in their last two games, and have some good SWC tests coming up in Viroqua and Prairie du Chien. Elswhere, Cashton continues to fly under most peoples’ radars (no pun intended, I swear) as they picked up a 21-20 won over Brookwood. The Eagles get a good challenge this week in non-conference foe Ithaca from the Ridge and Valley, so we’ll see if Jered Hemmersbach’s boys can continue their nice start. And finally, even though it’s still early, it’s looking like a three-horse race in the Dairyland, where Blair-Taylor and Eleva-Strum looked good in opening wins against C-FC and Augusta respectively. Mel-Min will still be the incumbent favorite, but their win over Pepin/Alma wasn’t by a large margin and the aforementioned Wildcats and Cardinals are hungry to dethrone the long-time conference champions. They also happen to face each other this week.
WHAT’S COMING UP NEXT?
Onalaska is the one MVC team that hasn’t played a conference game yet, but that changes this Friday against La Crosse Logan (6:45 on ESPN La Crosse 105.5). Even though Ona figures to be the heavy favorite Friday night, the Rangers gave two good programs in Eau Claire Memorial and Sparta a lot of problems in each game’s first half. Other games to watch include:
Tomah @ (RV) Sparta (6:40pm on ESPN Sparta 102.1)
Holmen @ La Crosse Central
#3 (Class 4A) Winona @ Mankato East
Blair-Taylor @ Eleva-Strum
Cashton @ (RV) Ithaca
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