Over the past two weeks, Dan Scheurs has seen something special with his Cedar Grove-Belgium football team.
Although the Rockets have barely been challenged this season it wasn’t until a 40-6 win over Manitowoc Lutheran two weeks ago followed by last Friday’s 49-0 victory over Random Lake that the first-year got the glimpse of what he was looking for.
“The last two games, we’ve come a long ways. The teams is starting to gel back together,” Scheurs said. “The last two games, we have played together as a team as a whole and more on the same page really since (Week 2 against) Ozaukee.”
Scheurs said that injuries have forced younger players into the lineup and it has simply taken time for them to adjust to the varsity game and to their veteran teammates. Yet, it’s not like the Rockets have been struggling.
Over the past five games, Cedar Grove-Belgium has scored no fewer than 38 points, while only one opponent — St. Mary Catholic in Week 3 — has hit the 14-point mark against the Rockets’ defense. That unit has not allowed a touchdown in the first three quarters of a game since the win over the Zephyrs and has allowed just six points over the last three games.
“Our defense,” Scheurs said as the key to the team’s success. “A big hats off to our defense for that. They have been the foundation we’ve been able to rely upon until we can get the ball rolling offensively.”
That defense will certainly be tested this week when rival Oostburg comes calling for the Theo’s Pizza Game of the Week. The Dutchmen are the highest-scoring team in the Big East Conference and Scheurs expects them to be a little bit testy coming off last week’s loss to Hilbert/Stockbridge.
Of course, in a rivalry game, things are always a bit more intense.
“The two communities, being so tightly knit family-wise and heritage-wise, it’s always an exciting game for both,” Scheurs said. “This week in practice we have been focusing on our techniques and our fundamentals and making sure we don’t overplay, get too excited and make mistakes.”
The majority of coaches before the season didn’t see the new Big East Conference as a glorified CLC vs. Olympian Small dual. Yes, those two conferences combined to make the new league, but the new league was seen as just that — a new league, not two leagues sharing the same space.
Good thing because the teams that formerly made up the CLC are definitely getting the better of their brethren.
Four of the six CLC members are already playoff eligible, while Cedar Grove-Belgium and Ozaukee have clinched postseason berths. At 4-2, both Oostburg and KLC need just one win in the final two weeks to wrap up a spot, while Random Lake is just one win away from playoff eligibility.
Only Howards Grove has been knocked out of the playoff hunt, however, the Tigers have won their last two games after taking on the league’s top four teams.
Other than league-leading Hilbert/Stockbridge — which avoided both Cedar Grove-Belgium and Ozaukee with the conference’s unbalanced schedule this season — no Olympian Small team has qualified for the postseason or become playoff eligible.
Five of a Kind
Winning on the road in high school football isn’t always an easy thing to do. But over the past five regular seasons, three area teams have had no trouble racking up the Ws away from home. Here are the top five area teams, by winning percentage, in regular-season road games since 2011.
•1. (tie): Cedar Grove-Belgium (.800 winning percentage, 16-4): Hard to believe with that record the Rockets were 1-2 on the road in 2014.
•1. (tie): Ozaukee (.800, 16-4): The Warriors are 3-1 away from home this season which is why they are in the hunt for the Big East Conference title.
•1. (tie): Plymouth (.800, 16-4): The Panthers went 7-0 on the road during the 2012-13 seasons combined.
•4. Kiel (.523, 11-10): The Raiders have won their last five regular-season road games, including two last year in Weeks 8 and 9 to clinch a playoff berth.
•5. Random Lake (.476, 10-11): The Rams have won two of their three road games so far this season and have a chance to get back to .500 this week at Lomira.
Each week I will rank what I feel are the top 5 teams in the area. These rankings are not based on head-to-head competition (No. 1 team would beat No. 2 team), rather it will be gauging how they would stack up against teams in their own division. With that said, here are the Week 8 rankings.
1. Sheboygan Falls (7-0): It’s hard to tell which is more impressive this season: The Falcon defense or the Falc•n offense.
•2. Cedar Grove-Belgium (6-1): The Rockets have outscored their last three opponents by a 131-6 margin but will face a stern test with Oostburg this week.
•3. Kiel (7-0): The Raiders had a little trouble with Brillion before pulling away late. They can’t look past Chilton this week.
•4. Ozaukee (5-2): By all accounts, Michael Richter is definitely a player to watch for the Warriors.
•5. Plymouth (4-3): The Panthers pulled out a big win on the road at Winneconne last week to punch their playoff ticket.