The playoff season is here so Friday it becomes do-or-die for every playoff team.
Among the games that appear the toughest to call are Menasha at Green Bay Southwest and Notre Dame at Xavier. The GameTime Game of the Week is a matchup of 7-2 teams as Green Bay Southwest hosts Menasha.
Southwest is the No. 4 seed, while Menasha is No. 5. Originally, Menasha was No. 4 and Southwest No. 5, but Southwest appealed the seed and won, so the Trojans get some home cooking. In the end it shouldn’t determine the winner, but it’s always nice to be home.
Meanwhile, Xavier and Notre Dame are teams that get it done in different ways. Xavier passes a ton, as Matt Ferris set a state record last week when he tossed his 41st TD pass of the season, and Notre Dame plays a tough, grinding style and relies on its defense to keep it close.
If you’re looking for a Level 1 upset including local teams this could be the game. Notre Dame held Ashwaubenon’s passing attack last week to 17 points and the Tritons won at Green Bay Preble this season and lost to Southwest on a Hail Mary.
Notre Dame is a Division 3 school that plays in a Division 1-2 conference and it usually pays off in the postseason. Of course, Xavier is no slouch and is 8-1 for a reason.
Also interesting this week are two Olympian-Packerland Large matchups as Brillion plays at Kewaunee and Chilton goes to Roncalli and a M&O matchup between Coleman and Crivitz, who just played each other last week.
It used to be conference teams could not meet in Level 1 but that has changed. What it has allowed is better matchups geographically and rematches amongst conference schools who know each other inside and out.
Should be fun.
Here’s “What to Watch For” in seven Level 1 games featuring all local teams with FOX 11 Top 11 rankings in parentheses:
- Menasha (7-2) at Green Bay Southwest (7-2). The GameTime Game of the Week promises to be a tight one. Both teams have the same record but are a little different on offense. Menasha will use its two-headed running combo of QB Tyler Johnson and RB Dylan Szews (they’ve combined for 1,787 yards and 23 TDs), while Southwest will attack with QB Chad Leaman (1,579 passing yards, 16 TDs) and a host of runners: Jake Gorzek (534 rushing yards), Taylor Van Rite (488 yards), Kieran Thomas (383 yards) and Leaman (362 yards) all have more than 360 rushing yards. Southwest will be bigger in the trenches and Menasha has speed. What to watch for: Line play. The trenches are always key and it’ll be interesting to see if Southwest’s size will be too much for Menasha.
- Notre Dame (6-3) at (11) Xavier (8-1). This might be the most interesting Level 1 matchup. Notre Dame likes to grind the ball on offense and play tough defense, while Xavier likes to throw the ball – Matt Ferris has a state record 41 TD passes and counting – and outscore everybody. What to watch for: Notre Dame’s defense. If the Tritons contained Ashwaubenon QB James Morgan in Week 9, why can’t they do the same to Ferris? If they do, Notre Dame can post an upset.
- Chilton (5-4) at (8) Roncalli (9-0), Saturday. These O-P Large teams meet for a second time. The first meeting saw the Tigers lose at Roncalli, 21-7. Chilton has to feel fortunate to even still be playing as it has lost four straight games and finished conference play at 3-4. What to watch for: Running game. Roncalli has run for more than 2,600 yards this season and 39 TDs. If the Jets’ running game is on, Chilton will have a tough time surviving.
- Little Chute (6-3) at Peshtigo (8-1). The Mustangs’ three losses came to Eastern Valley foes Waupaca, Xavier and Freedom, so they have played quality teams and lost. Peshtigo plays in the smaller M&O Conference and won the league with a 7-0 record. What to watch for: Peshtigo. The Mustangs won’t be fazed by anything after playing ghe team they’ve played, so the Bulldogs must establish themselves early to show Little Chute despite playing in a smaller conference, they’re a big hurdle.
- Crivitz (6-3) at Coleman (7-2). For the second week in a row these teams meet at Coleman. Last week, the Cougars beat Crivitz 36-14 to basically secure a Level 1 home game, so the Wolverines need to do something different this time around to keep its season going. What to watch for: Ben Fischer. The Crivitz RB, who has a preferred walk-on offer from Wisconsin, was “held” to 109 yards and 1 TD last week. He needs to do more for the Wolverines to win on the road.
- Denmark (4-5) at Freedom (6-3). The Vikings find themselves in the playoffs despite a sub .500 record and their reward is Freedom, which last season reached Level 4 as a No. 8 seed. Freedom didn’t play its starters long last week against Hortonville as it was trying to get helthy for the playoffs, while Denmark lost at West De Pere. What to watch for: Nathan Peters. The 2012 state rushing leader missed one game due to injury and had just 6 carries for 28 yards last week. The RB is key to Freedom’s playoff run and the healthier he is, the better Freedom is. Peters has 929 yards and 17 TDs.
- Brillion (4-5) at Kewaunee (8-1). Two weeks ago, Kewaunee hosted Brillion and thumped the Lions, 41-14. Brillion has to figure a way to win on the road as it was 1-3 on the road this season, with the lone road win coming in Week 1 against 1-win Hilbert. As for Kewaunee, it has to respond after losing 35-0 at Roncalli last week. What to watch for: Offense. Kewaunee (37.9 ppg) averages 20 points per game more than Brillion (18.2 ppg), so offense will be the key in this one. The Lions need a low-scoring game to post the upset.
Follow Doug Ritchay on Twitter @dougritchay
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