Three high school football games. At least a share of three potential conference championships on the line.
After spending the first six games of the season jockeying for position in the standings, it has come down to a pivotal week for several area teams.
West De Pere will host Seymour in a battle of unbeaten teams atop the Bay Conference. Green Bay Preble is at Green Bay Southwest in a showdown between two of the three undefeated teams in the Fox River Classic Conference. Peshtigo is at Suring, with the winner taking sole possession of first in the Marinette-Oconto Conference.
It doesn’t get much bigger than this.
“West De Pere has done such a good job of it over the years, I’m sure we feel like they do with the spotlight,” Seymour coach Matt Molle said. “You have to be excited about the opportunity. You have to be excited about the big-game atmosphere. It should be a lot of fun.”
The good news for Seymour is it is the last Bay team to beat West De Pere. The bad news is the win came in 2009.
The Phantoms enter with a 34-game winning streak, which is one of the best in the nation. According to CBS MaxPreps, Inc., they are tied with three schools for the sixth-best streak overall.
Clairton High School in Pennsylvania leads the nation at 52 games. There are four teams with a current streak of 35 or more, including Waunakee’s 42.
West De Pere has the top-ranked offense and defense in the nine-team Bay, while Seymour is No. 2 in both.
The teams have allowed only a combined 7.5 points per game, which could suggest this will be a defensive battle. Except that West De Pere is averaging 56.4 points in league play and Seymour 39.8 points.
Seymour running back Cody Plaster leads the league with 737 yards, while teammate Bret Rottier is fifth with 472 yards. Wide receiver Sandy Cohen is tops in the conference with 24 receptions and second with 337 yards.
West De Pere boasts the league’s top touchdown scorers in running backs Dom Conway (14) and Zac Rothering (11).
“You know, obviously, something has got to give,” Molle said. “I don’t know if it will be a high-scoring game or a low-scoring game, but it should be a tough game. A close game. When you play on the road, you want to make it to the fourth quarter and give yourself a shot to win.
“Both our squads when you watch them on tape, we have both gotten out in front of teams early in that first half. It should be interesting to see how that plays out.”
Molle knows that to beat West De Pere his team must contain its running attack. It also will have to play a clean game void of many penalties or turnovers.
Now the only question is, does Seymour believe it can win?
“We will find out, because if we don’t believe that when we step on the field, we are going to be in trouble,” said Molle, who has liked the quiet confidence his team has displayed throughout the season. “I think our guys understand that this is not something that is going to be easy. What West De Pere has done over the last few years, that’s ridiculous. I don’t care what kind of team you have, what kind of talent, to be that dialed in every week. …That’s ridiculous.”
Preble or Southwest, meanwhile, will take another step toward at least a share of the FRCC championship, although the Trojans’ path to a title appears more difficult.
Not only must they beat the Hornets, but they also must beat a Bay Port team that should enter next week’s regular-season finale undefeated. Southwest has not won a conference championship since winning the Fox River Valley in 1975.
Peshtigo is seeking its first M&O championship since 2009, while Suring hasn’t won a title since capturing a share of the title in 2005.