Pacelli, Rosholt football teams set for home openers
Portage County Gazette
By John Kemmeter
The Pacelli Catholic and Rosholt high school football teams will play at home for the first time this season, as each of the five area high school football teams are at home this weekend for Week 4 of the season.
Pacelli will host Manawa at 3 p.m. Saturday, Sept. 8, and Rosholt will take on Marion/Tigerton at 7 p.m. Friday, Sept. 7, when Stevens Point Area Senior High School (SPASH) will host Appleton North, fourth-ranked Amherst will face Shiocton and Almond-Bancroft will play Pardeeville.
Coming off three consecutive road games to start the season, the Cardinals (0-3, 0-1) will play at Community Stadium at Goerke Field for the first time in 2018 when they host Manawa (2-1, 0-1) Saturday afternoon.
“Obviously, we’re looking forward to getting in front of hometown fans on Saturday,” said Pacelli football head coach Drew Nelson. “It’s special playing at home, playing on the turf, and we’re looking forward to a good challenge on Saturday.”
Manawa finished 3-7 last year, while it opened this season with nonconference wins over Suring (54-7) and Auburndale (34-22), before it lost 20-14 at Bonduel in its conference opener last Friday.
“Watching them on film, they’re much improved from last year,” said Nelson. “We’ve got to come ready to execute, and it’s another one of those game where we’re going to have our hands full.”
Pacelli lost 27-20 in overtime at Shiocton in its Central Wisconsin Conference (CWC) Large opener last week, while it won 42-6 at Manawa last year.
“We’re getting a little bit healthier, and we have some guys back to play a full four quarters,” said Nelson. “At Shiocton we were down 20-8 going into the fourth quarter, a lot of teams could’ve given up and folded, but these kids didn’t, the coaches didn’t, and it was a great thing to see, and we were able to battle back and tie it up 20-20 going into overtime.
“Obviously we lost in overtime, but if we play a full four quarters with the amount of effort we played for about two-and-a-half at Shiocton, I think good things could happen,” he said.
The Hornets (0-3, 0-1) will also be at home for the first time this season when they host Marion/Tigerton (0-3) Friday night.
“The biggest thing we hit on after that game (last week) is the fact that we have a lot of season ahead of us yet,” said Rosholt football co-head coach Mark McHugh. “We’ve got the majority of our conference schedule ahead of us yet; it’s there for the taking.
“The idea of coming home and playing at our home field, in front of our home crowd, was really was uplifting, because it’s been taxing for them,” he said. “It’s tough, three games in a row against quality opponents and bigger schools, and to be at home and to be able to play in front of our crowd, they’re just very excited about that.”
Marion/Tigerton went 1-8 a year ago, and opened this season with three consecutive nonconference losses against Northern Elite (55-18), Elcho/White Lake (20-12) and Northland Pines (64-14).
Rosholt fell 41-0 at Division 7 eighth-ranked Pittsville (3-0, 1-0) last week, while it won 60-0 at Marion/Tigerton last year.
“If we get a good performance from our offensive line, we feel confident that we should be able to do things offensively,” said McHugh. “We’ve been held in check for two weeks, and we need to find ourselves, and it starts with our offensive line.
“If we can get that together, I think we can have some success against them,” he said.
The Panthers will play a team that has been ranked for the fourth week in a row to open the season, when they host Appleton North (1-2, 1-2). North was ranked third in Division 1 in the WisSports.net Coaches Poll following a 55-0 win over D.C. Everest in Week 1, but fell to seventh following a 22-19 loss at Neenah, then lost 30-7 at top-ranked Fond du Lac last week.
“It’s another great opponent, and they’ve had some tough losses here recently as well, so they’re very, very hungry,” said SPASH football head coach Pete McAdams. “And we’d like to say they can’t be any hungrier than we are right now.
“We know that we’ve got our hands full once again, and that’s just kind of the way it is in our conference and with our schedule,” he said. “We’ve got great opponents every single week, and we’re coming up on the short end of those, and we’ve just got to find a way to hang in there and stick together, and try to make the opportunities come our way once again.”
SPASH has losses to fifth-ranked Neenah (24-6), eighth-ranked Hudson (48-20) and second-ranked Kimberly (21-0) to open this season, while it fell 21-14 last year at eventual Division 1 State Semifinalist North.
“I want to see a complete game, where our offense and defense and special teams are all clicking,” said McAdams. “And that’s not a perfect game by any means, but we’ve got to be able to execute in all three facets.
“Their offense is very potent, and they’ve been shut down a little bit in the last couple of weeks,” he said. “So if we can hang in there as a defense and get off the field when we need to get off the field and get some three-and-outs, get our offense an opportunity to finish some drives off, I think we’ll all be very happy on our side of the field.”
Following a 42-0 win at Wittenberg-Birnamwood in their CWC Large opener last week, the fourth-ranked Falcons will be at home Friday night against Shiocton (2-1, 1-0).
“We’re playing at home again, against a great conference opponent, and we’re excited to get going,” said Amherst football head coach Mark Lusic. “Shiocton’s got a new coach, but a similar scheme that they’ve had in the past, they’re still a spread team.
“And defensively, they want to try to make you go east to west,” he said.
Shiocton won 27-20 in overtime at home against Pacelli last week, while Amherst won 36-0 at then-ninth-ranked Shiocton last year for its fourth consecutive win in the series.
“I want to see another step forward; I don’t want a step back here,” said Lusic. “We’re starting to solve some issues that we’ve had and we’ve been working on the last two weeks, and we’re starting to see them come in the game now.
“So just keep taking a step forward is the biggest thing,” he said.
Coming off a 41-0 win at reigning CWC Small Champion Wild Rose in their conference opener last week, the Eagles will return home for a nonconference challenge against Pardeeville (3-0, 1-0) Friday night.
“They were 3-0 when we faced them last year and we got them in overtime, and now here they are again, 3-0,” said Almond-Bancroft head coach Andrew Bradley. “They’re a little more balanced maybe than Wild Rose, but another physical team that we’re going to have to match up with.”
Pardeeville lost 32-30 at home to Almond last season on the way to a 6-4 record and a trip to the WIAA Division 6 Playoffs, while it is off to 3-0 start this season following wins over Cambria-Friesland (8-6), Randolph (28-14) and Parkview (26-14).
“It was a big win for us last week, so definitely no letdowns,” said Bradley of what he wants to see out of his team. “We’ve got two nonconference games here in a row before we finish our conference season the last four games, so just getting better these next two weeks, and getting us prepared for the home stretch of our conference season at the end.”