It’s come down to this for the Ashwaubenon and Pulaski football teams: Win tonight, or run a very high risk of missing the postseason.
The Jaguars and Red Raiders each stand at 1-3 entering their showdown at Ashwaubenon. The loser will be forced to win its last three games of the season to qualify for the playoffs, which won’t be an easy task.
Ashwaubenon still has Bay Port and Green Bay Notre Dame left on its schedule, while Pulaski still plays Notre Dame and Manitowoc.
“Well, we probably say that every win is a must-win,” Ashwaubneon coach Mark Jonas said. “But being 1-3 and having a chance to get win No. 4, yeah, we need to win. I think both of us are in the same boat.
“We need to play with a lot more urgency than we have played with.”
The Jaguars have not had much balance on offense through the first half of the season. They have struggled to run the ball and are averaging just 51.5 yards per game on the ground.
Ashwaubenon is playing a talented young quarterback in sophomore James Morgan, who has started the last two games due to an ankle sprain sustained by starter Kyle Mrozinski in a Week 2 loss to Green Bay Southwest.
Morgan already has thrown for the second most yards in the 12-team Fox River Classic Conference with 516, trailing only Bay Port’s Colton Peterson (575). Morgan has thrown six touchdowns but also has six interceptions.
The Jaguars are not used to missing the playoffs, and Jonas hopes his team feels the urgency to make sure that doesn’t happen this season. Ashwaubenon has made the postseason 12 of the last 13 years.
“This group doesn’t want to break that trend, and I don’t want to either,” Jonas said. “So, if they are feeling the pressure, it’s stuff that we created ourselves.
“When we look at where we could be. …We tell people this all the time. You look at three or four plays every game. If they go the other direction, the outcome is different. We are six or seven plays away from the outcome being different. We have to find a way to turn that on our side.”
Now or never, too
Wrightstown (3-1) suffered its first loss since 2010 when it was beaten by Chilton 33-21 last week, ending a 13-game regular-season winning streak and a 17-game overall winning streak.
It makes tonight’s game at home against Brillion the most important game of the season when it comes to the Tigers’ championship hopes in the Olympian/Packerland Conference-Large.
Brillion and Chilton both are 4-0, and a loss by the Tigers might end their chance of even sharing a piece of the league title.
This game could come down to which defense does a better job containing the big plays of two potent offenses.
Wrightstown and Brillion enter with the top-ranked attacks in the 10-team league. The Tigers are averaging 391.6 yards and have one of the league’s top running backs in senior Riley Schussler. Schussler leads the conference with 663 yards and is tied for first with nine touchdowns.
The Lions are averaging 380.5 yards and boast the league’s second-leading rusher in Brandon Pribbernow. The senior has rushed for 511 yards and is averaging a league-best 9.5 yards per carry.