Amherst football set for home debut, Almond hosts Rosholt
Portage County Gazette
By John Kemmeter
The Amherst High School football will play on its new home field for the first time Friday, Sept. 20, while Almond-Bancroft will host Rosholt in a big week for area high school football teams.
The Stevens Point Area Senior High School (SPASH) and Pacelli Catholic High School football teams will play a doubleheader at Community Stadium at Goerke Field Friday night, with SPASH set to take on Marshfield at 5 p.m. in the Blackout Cancer Game, and Pacelli to follow against Wittenberg-Birnamwood at 8 p.m.
After its first two scheduled home games were moved to neutral sites while construction continued on Heartland Farms Field, the second-ranked Amherst football team will play at its new home for the first time when it takes on Weyauwega-Fremont at 7 p.m. Friday.
“We’re excited,” said Amherst football head coach Mark Lusic. “We’ve been on the road for five straight weeks (with the scrimmage), and those bus rides kind of get long after a while.
“But this is a great compliment to all of the people who donated money, and the school putting this all together, and our football team having success in years past,” he said. “Now we’ve just got to continue to do that, and we’re excited to open it up.”
Weyauwega is off to an 0-4 start following a 40-0 loss at Bonduel last week, while Amherst won 52-0 at Shiocton to improve to 4-0 overall and 2-0 in the Central Wisconsin Conference (CWC) Large.
“They’re trying to find their way right now, and they’re trying to find their pieces,” said Lusic. “But I tell our guys all of the time, ‘it’s about us, I don’t care who’s in front of us, it’s about us getting better.’
“And if we execute on Friday night, we’ll take our chances,” he said.
Almond-Bancroft and Rosholt
The last two remaining unbeaten teams in CWC Small play will meet when sixth-ranked Almond-Bancroft (4-0, 2-0) hosts Rosholt (2-2, 1-0) at 7 p.m. Friday.
“We’re back-to-back here, with two of the top teams in the conference,” said Almond-Bancroft football head coach Andrew Bradley. “Rosholt has gotten better every year, and they’re all upperclassmen now, and they’ve played a tough schedule.
“They’re definitely going to be ready for us, so we just have to bring that intensity and play again like we did last Friday,” he said.
“It’s a conference game that’s important for both teams,” said Rosholt football co-head coach Mark McHugh. “Like I said earlier in the season, until you can knock off Almond, you can’t really make any claim for a chance at conference.
“It’s going to be a very physical football game, and it won’t take much for our kids to get ready for that,” he said.
Reigning CWC Small Champion Almond won 26-6 at home over Pittsville last week, while Rosholt lost 39-7 at home to fifth-ranked Oshkosh Lourdes (4-0).
Current senior running back Jackson Beggs rushed for 267 yards and four touchdowns on 24 carries in Almond’s 35-0 win at Rosholt last season, which was the Eagles’ fourth consecutive win in the series, after the Hornets won the previous five meetings from 2010 through 2014.
“Obviously Jackson Beggs is a big part of their team, not only offensively, but defensively also, so he presents challenges on both sides of the football,” said McHugh. “And also with (Daniel) Baumgartner at quarterback, being an athlete like that, you can always expect Bradley to come up with something in the passing game, so we’re going to have to prepare for both on the ground and in the air.
“But their offense revolves around Jackson, and we’re going to have to come up with a way to slow him down,” he said.
“We have to work off of our last game (against Pittsville), we played very well and we kind of fine tuned some things,” said Bradley. “Rosholt brings a little different offense to us, but very balanced, a nice quarterback, a nice running back, so we have to be ready for everything against them, and it’s a team that’s really been improving over the years.
“So it’ll be a hard-fought battle,” he said.
SPASH (0-4, 0-4) will play a Valley Football Association West Division opponent for the first time this season when it hosts Marshfield (1-3, 1-3) at 5 p.m. Friday, in the fifth annual Blackout Cancer Game and the Hall of Fame Game.
“I certainly hope our guys have a renewed enthusiasm, for coming back to the West Division of our conference,” said SPASH football head coach Pete McAdams. “But I also think this game has been very special, for our Blackout Cancer Game, and also our Hall of Fame Game.
“So those two special events accompanying this home game, I certainly hope our guys are looking forward to that,” he said. “As well as playing a really good opponent.”
Marshfield won 13-7 at home over SPASH last year on the way to a 12-1 finish and a trip to the WIAA Division 2 State Semifinals, while it is 1-3 this season following a Week 2 win over Oshkosh North (20-7) and losses to Appleton West (20-19), Hortonville (29-14) and Kaukauna (35-7).
“These seniors know just how big of a game that ended up being last year for us, that we came out on the short end of the stick,” said McAdams. “There are a lot of reasons to be fired up and a lot of reasons to be motivated to give it everything you have.
“Our kids have done a good job this week in practice, and they’re continuing to stay focused on improving and doing everything that we ask of them, and trusting in our process and believing in one another,” he said. “We’ve got to continue to do those things, and I still believe good things will happen with this group of young men.”
Pacelli (1-3, 0-1) will follow in the second game of the doubleheader when it takes on former CWC Large rival Wittenberg-Birnamwood (3-1, 1-1) in a nonconference game at 8 p.m.
Pacelli won 20-14 last year at Wittenberg, which followed a 42-0 loss to Amherst Sept. 6 with an 18-8 win at home over reigning WIAA Division 6 State Champion Iola-Scandinavia (1-3, 1-1) last week.