High school football: Teams hit stretch run

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Suring, Gillett still in hunt for playoffs

With just three weeks remaining in the high school football regular season, local teams are headed in various directions.

Suring and Gillett are in the playoff hunt while Oconto Falls and the Lena/St. Thomas Aquinas Academy are hoping to build towards the future and continue to build a program identity.

After playing in an exhibition game last week, Gillett will return to the gridiron facing a tough Wausaukee team. The Tigers have not picked up a win since Aug. 30 but would likely need a victory this week to be in the playoff conversation.

“It’s a big game for us, I’m not going to lie, its a big game for them. One with playoffs in mind.” Gillett coach Jesse Witcraft said. “If we want a chance to make the playoffs in the end, we will have to win this football game.”

To topple Wausaukee, which is riding a four-game winning streak after an 0-2 start, Gillett will need to slow down Wausaukee’s balanced offensive attack. Two of the team’s quarterbacks have thrown for over 350 yards while five players have rushed for over 100 yards and scored at least one touchdown.

“We both only have one loss in conference play, and they are a scrappy team, they play hard, run the read option well, and with compete physically,” Witcraft said. “I feel if we play our game, tough physical football, focus on one play at a time, execute the plays that are called offensively and defensively, we will see what the scoreboard shows at the end of the game. We will get a couple guys back this week which should help and then aim for a good week of practice.”

Despite a 43-point loss to Crivitz last week and a 1-5 overall record, the team can still guarantee itself a spot in the playoffs by winning its final three games. The Eagles’ first test of that stretch is Friday against Three Lakes/Phelps.

Three Lakes/Phelps is 3-3 overall but just 1-3 in the MONLPC-Small Division, meaning the co-op will also be fighting for its playoff life.

Suring took last year’s matchup by a 44-6 final.

If you watched Oconto Falls early in the season and then its game against Wrightstown last Friday, it’s pretty clear that the Panthers have improved vastly over that time. The wins have not come, but the team’s competitiveness continues to rise as the competition does.

After playing against teams that liked to run the ball, the Panthers will now prepare to take on Fox Valley Lutheran’s dangerous passing game.

Oconto Falls will hope to use its running game to move the ball and help keep FVL off the field.

“Offensively, we are going to keep doing what we do, which is control the game and the clock,” Oconto Falls coach Nick Bohl said. “We have to clean up our turnovers that we had against Wrightstown as I felt we left at least another 14 points on the field.”

The Panthers are hoping fundamentals improve a defense that has surrendered over 40 points in each of the last three weeks.

“Defensively, we are going to continue to work the fundamentals of aligning properly, running to the football, and tackling,” Bohl said. “All good defenses boil down to being in the right spots and finishing the play. We continue to make these a habit and sooner or later it will start to pay off for us.”

The Lena/STAA co-op has fallen on tough times since its week one thrashing of Menominee Indian. Lena/STAA has scored just 26 combined points in the four games since.

Sevastopol, which is undefeated in the MONLPC-8, marks the next team on the schedule for the co-op.

“One, we have to focus on the positive things that we have done,” Lena/STAA coach Dale Lange said. “We have to do a much better job at blocking and carrying out our assignments. Defensively, to fill and wrap up on our tackles.”