SPASH visits Marshfield in Blackout Cancer Game
Portage County Gazette
By John Kemmeter
The Stevens Point Area Senior High School (SPASH) football team will play at Marshfield in the fourth annual Blackout Cancer Game at 7 p.m. Friday, Sept. 14, as each of the five area high school football teams will be on the road for the third time in five weeks.
Rosholt is at Wild Rose, Almond-Bancroft will travel to Blair-Taylor, Amherst is set to visit Weyauwega-Fremont, and Pacelli Catholic High School hits the road to take on Wittenberg-Birnamwood at 7 p.m. Friday.
The Panthers (0-4) will play a Valley Football Association (VFA) West Division opponent for the first time this season when they visit Division 2 ninth-ranked Marshfield (4-0) for the Blackout Cancer Game, which rotates every year between SPASH and Marshfield.
“This is something that has been near and dear to me for a number of years,” said SPASH football head coach Pete McAdams. “Each year the home team selects a recipient that takes a good chunk of the funds raised to help them and their families fight their battle with cancer.
“Any time that you can play the game of football for something much, much greater, it’s really special,” he said. “And I think our kids cherish this opportunity as well to go out there and play for all of those people that they know, who have been fighting cancer, or maybe have even lost a battle with cancer. It’s a special thing to put in our minds, but also a neat opportunity to raise funds to help our local cancer centers in Marshfield and here in Stevens Point.”
This will be the fifth week in a row that SPASH will face a team that has been ranked this season, as Marshfield has wins over Oshkosh West (26-6), Appleton West (35-6), Hortonville (41-20) and Kaukauna (24-21) to get off to a 4-0 start entering VFA West play.
“Right now it’s the unbeatens against the winless, and they’ve done an outstanding job this year to be in the position they’re in,” said McAdams. “We’ve got to continue to get better, continue to improve, and we certainly hope we’ll find that winning formula as well.
“But it cannot be our focus, that we’re in a ‘must-win situation,’ and we’re not,” he said. “We are in a ‘must-improve situation’ still, and we’ve got to continue to believe that, if we continue to improve and play the way we’re capable of playing, that things will take care of themselves in the win/loss column.”
The Hornets will look to improve to 2-1 in the Central Wisconsin Conference (CWC) Small when they play at Wild Rose (1-3) Friday night.
“They have a new coach there, but from what we see on film, they look pretty much like the same Wild Rose from the previous years, and we’ve struggled against them defensively,” said Rosholt football co-head coach Mark McHugh. “They execute good on offense, they have a very fast quarterback who’s athletic, and a very good running back.
“We feel that we can continue our momentum on offense, and I like our chances, as far as being able to move the football on them,” he said.
Reigning CWC Small Champion Wild Rose won 20-14 at home over Boscobel last week after opening the season with losses to Oshkosh Lourdes (35-7), fourth-ranked Fall River (20-0) and Almond-Bancroft (41-0), while Rosholt won 41-0 over Marion/Tigerton in its home opener last Friday.
“We need to eliminate the turnovers, we can’t beat ourselves,” said McHugh. “Probably the biggest thing is, we just need to execute on both sides of the football.
“It’s going to be won or lost in the trenches, and who’s going to be surviving when it gets to the fourth quarter,” he said. “But the kids are focused, they know what’s in front of them, and we’re hoping that that trickles through to Friday night against Wild Rose.”
Coming off their third win in a row, the Eagles (3-1) will close out their nonconference schedule at Blair-Taylor (1-3) Friday night.
“We’re looking to get better this week in another nonconference game, to get us ready for the conference stretch at the end,” said Almond-Bancroft football head coach Andrew Bradley. “The kids are excited, and we’ve been playing well lately.”
Blair-Taylor lost 56-19 at Almond last year on the way to a 0-9 season, while Almond has outscored its opponents by a 117-6 margin since its season-opening 8-6 loss to fourth-ranked Fall River.
“They spread it out a little bit, and at the same time they’re balanced, those are things we’ll see going forward from some of the teams, so it will be good for us defensively,” said Bradley. “And then offensively, we’re just going to have to continue what we’ve been doing.
“We’re just worried about ourselves getting better right now, and making sure we’re improving each week,” he said.
The fourth-ranked Falcons (3-1) will look to improve to 3-0 in the CWC Large when they play at Weyauwega (0-4, 0-2) Friday night.
“I keep saying we’ve got to play a complete game here, that’s what I keep looking for, that’s what we keep pushing for, and I just want to play a complete game from top-to-bottom, and from start-to-finish too,” said Amherst football head coach Mark Lusic. “We’ve got to start making plays, more consistently, and not shooting ourselves in the foot.
“That’s what we’re trying to work toward, and we’ll get it,” he said.
Weyauwega lost to Bonduel 35-7 last week after it opened the season with losses to Division 7 ninth-ranked Reedsville (47-0), Brillion (26-6) and Division 6 top-ranked Iola-Scandinavia (55-9), while Amherst will look to take a step forward after its 31-7 win over Shiocton last week.
“They run a hybrid defense, a lot of guys stand up, they don’t put too many guys down, and they try to confuse you up front,” said Lusic. “Offensively, they’re more of a two back and a tight end team, they can throw the deep ball and they throw it a lot.
“So we’ve got to basically make the plays that we need to make,” he said.
The Cardinals (0-4, 0-2) will face a challenge on the road when they play at Wittenberg-Birnamwood Friday.
“Looking at them on film and figuring out what we’re going to do and how to game plan, they’ve got some big kids,” said Pacelli football head coach Drew Nelson. “They’ve got some 250-pound plus guys on their offensive and defensive lines, so their size is going to pose a challenge to us, and we’re going to have to use a little bit of speed and our agility to hit some holes and shut them down hopefully defensively, too.”
Wittenberg won 22-20 at Pacelli last year on the way to a 6-4 season and a WIAA Division 5 Playoff berth, while Wittenberg is off to a 0-2 start in the CWC Large this season following losses to Amherst (42-0) and Iola-Scandinavia (49-6) the last two weeks.
“We’ve got to cut the turnovers, we’ve had way too many this year,” said Nelson. “It’s a point of emphasis this week in practice.
“And then if we can do that and stop giving the ball over, hopefully we have a little bit of success and put some points up on the board and finish drives,” he said.