Prep football: Road tests await TR, Lutheran and Roncalli tonight

Prep football: Road tests await TR, Lutheran and Roncalli tonight


Prep football: Road tests await TR, Lutheran and Roncalli tonight


After having each taken care of business at home last week Friday, the Roncalli, Two Rivers and Manitowoc Lutheran football teams all face road tests tonight at 7 p.m. in the second round of the WIAA State Football Tournament.

The No. 4-seeded Raiders (8-1) get the closest matchup against No. 1 West De Pere (9-0) in Division 3, while the No. 3 Jets (7-2) face No. 2 Lakeside Lutheran (9-0) in Division 4 and, in Division 6, the No. 3-seeded Lancers take on No. 2 Shiocton (8-1).

Quarterback Brett Kasper and the rest of the Two Rivers offense will try to keep pace with the Phantoms, the two-time defending state champions, who have outscored opponents by a 332-36 margin in the first and second quarters while putting up at least 40 points in six games.

The Raiders certainly have the firepower to keep up, scoring 50 three times this season and with Kasper having the second most passing yards (2,435) and touchdowns (28) in the state. Also at Kasper’s disposal is Wisconsin’s second leading receiver, Dexter Smith, with 1,047 yards and 14 touchdowns on 64 receptions.

When asked about how to stop a potent De Pere rushing attack, led by Zach Rothering’s 908 yards and 17 touchdowns, Two Rivers coach Brent Luebke didn’t seem concerned.

“We are a program that really doesn’t adapt to anyone or change,” Luebke said. “We don’t make additions throughout the year defensively.”

Luebke was just as confident about matching the Phantoms offensively.

“We have been in a few big games this year against tough opponents,” Luebke added. “Our players learned that they have to come out the same every play, quarter and game so we are not playing catch up.”

Two Rivers, which is coming off a last-second 46-yard field goal by Justin Schmeichel to defeat No. 5 Menasha last week, knows they have to be more consistent to continue its run into November.

“Our team definitely gained confidence (last week),” Luebke said. “We know what talent we have and that we are a solid team, it will be pretty scary for our opponents if we would put four full quarters together.”

For Roncalli, the test will be trying to stop a mirror image of itself with Lakeside running the exact same offense and defense as the Jets.

“It really is like playing ourselves,” said Roncalli coach Ray Baranczyk. “We’ve basically just looked at what other schools have done to us that have posed us problems in the past since we’re so similar on both sides of the ball.”

Both sides feature potent rushing attacks, with the Jets rushing for nearly 1,900 yards compared to the Warriors’ 2,200.

Roncalli’s ground game is spearheaded by Alex Katz who has racked up 614 yards and 10 touchdowns while adding 334 yards and five scores through the air as the Jets’ leading receiver. His numbers might be better if he wasn’t hampered the last three or four games with a high ankle sprain, but even at less than 100% Katz remains a home run threat.

Katz’s ability to take advantage of a defense which loads eight or nine men in the box was on full display in Roncalli’s 27-8 win over Edgerton last week. He hauled in a 76-yard bomb from quarterback Zach Slattery after Edgerton loaded up to stop the run. It was only one of two passes completed by the Jets, but it kept the Edgerton defense weary of being burned again.

Baranczyk hopes that big play potential well be able to stretch a defense which hasn’t allowed more than two touchdowns in a game all season.

“We only need to throw the ball enough to make them respect our passing game,” added Baranczyk. “It keeps a defense on their toes when they can’t commit fully to either option. Both sides will want to pound the ball it will come down to which team can take advantage of the big plays when they’re available.”

Meanwhile, all that is standing in Lutheran’s way of advancing is a team which dismantled fellow Olympian-Packerland Small member Reedsville 51-0 last week in Shiocton.

The Chiefs are well balanced, scoring 40 or more points five times while shutting out three straight opponents and five overall this season.

Lutheran coach Jim Carolfi understands the tough task ahead, but won’t change his team’s identity to muster the upset.

“We may make subtle tweaks,” Carolfi said. “We’re just not going to change who we are as a team.”

The one added bonus the Lancers have is they faced Shiocton in the first game of last season, losing 34-6 with all scoring happening in the first quarter.

“We simply turned the ball over too many times last season,” said Carolfi. “Our team is more than capable of sticking with them (Shiocton), we just need to get into the right situations to make plays.”

Peter Menges leads the Lancers charge offensively, with 848 yards on the ground and 12 touchdowns.

On Saturday, if any of the three local teams advance, they’ll be one of only eight teams left alive in their respective divisions.


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