Undefeated and a trip to the state semifinals.
That’s what is on the line for both teams Saturday as Holmen (11-0) and Oshkosh North (11-0) play in a WIAA Division 2 Level 3 playoff football game on J.J. Keller Field at Titan Stadium.
Both teams come into the game boasting dominant defenses and a powerful rushing attack, commonplace for most Wisconsin state high school football teams still playing this weekend, but maybe more so in this game than any other matchup over the weekend.
“It’s the third week in a row facing a ground-and-pound, so its going to be a clock-moving type game,” head coach Chris Kujawa said. “They are looking for 3½ yards each play, that’s all they are trying to do. But they do have the ability to throw the football as well. They are a wishbone/flexbone option team with the ability to pass.”
Holmen is led by quarterback Tyler Anderson, who leads the team in passing and rushing. Anderson has 813-yards passing and 789-yards rushing on the year, over 1,600 total yards from scrimmage.
Mitchell Dienger is the workhorse back, carrying the ball 152 times for 626 yards in nine games, and change-of-pace back Dillon Martinez has rushed for 615 yards at an incredible 12.1 yards-per-carry clip.
Anderson and Dienger are the main course, but Martinez might just be the wildcard of it all.
“(Martinez) is a state track qualifer, an 11.1-100 (yard dash) kid, definitely some speed and very dangerous not only as a run threat but as a pass threat as well. We definitely know about him,” Kujawa said, adding that he doesn’t need his guys to get too amped for this matchup, and instead to focus on staying the course throughout the game.
The defense Holmen comes to town with is not for the faint of heart either.
The Vikings have yet to allow any points in the opening quarter all season. They have given up three or less points in six of its contests, posting shutouts in four of those matchups. In total, Holmen has given up a measely 5.5 points-per-game, surrendering just 140 total yards of offense per game.
“They have a tough defense, so coming into this week we know we have to score some points to win, we can’t just rely on our defense again,” running back Alex Hintze said. “But we have some schemes that we think can prevail us to a ‘W’.”
The Spartans defense is no slouch either, holding teams to 10.5 points on 175 total yards-per-game.
“We are just going to have to continue to play flatline. Not let our highs get too high and our lows get too low, and just believe in each other. These kids have to play for one another, they can’t just play for themselves, they have to play for their teammates,” Kujawa said.
Defensive lineman Brett Sawicki believes his team just needs to stick to what they do best and they should be fine — controlling the line of scrimmage.
“We’re going to take them like any other team,” Sawicki said. “We’re going to put our best matchup against their best matchup, and hopefully ours is better.”
One thing the players have noticed going deep into the playoffs is the extra attention they’ve received around the city the past couple of weeks. Strangers walking up to them and wishing them good luck and asking about the team, students from around the city recognizing their efforts, and Sawicki said he enjoys the rock-star-like treatment.
“You get noticed,” Sawicki said. “You go out to eat and people come up to you and ask ‘how’s your football team doing’ or ‘I heard you guys were deep in the playoffs’, it’s kind of a fun feeling. You get treated like a star kind of, even though you aren’t.”
In order to keep that going, the team needs to churn out a complete football game Saturday evening.
“We are going to have to play 48 minutes of sound football to win this game,” Kujawa said.