Almond-Bancroft, Amherst football teams home for Level 2
Portage County Gazette
By John Kemmeter
Coming off wins in their playoff openers last week, the Almond-Bancroft High School and Amherst High School football teams will be at home again for Level 2 of the WIAA Playoffs Friday, Nov. 1.
Division 7 sixth-ranked Almond (10-0) will face a Top 10 team for the second time in three weeks when its hosts 10th-ranked Gilman (8-2) at 7 p.m., while Division 5 second-ranked Amherst (9-0) will take on New Holstein (7-3) at 7 p.m. at Heartland Farms Field.
“We’re one of the final 16 in Division 7, and it’s good to be at home,” said Almond-Bancroft football head coach Andrew Bradley. “Gilman’s coming from the Cloverwood, just like Athens, another tough test for us, so we’ll see how it goes.”
“It’s really nice to play at home,” said Amherst football head coach Mark Lusic. “It seems like we haven’t been at home much this season, and we’re excited to host.”
Second-seeded Almond remained unbeaten with a 30-7 win at home over seventh-seeded Athens (5-5) in the Division 7 Level 1 Playoffs Friday, Oct. 25, and will play for a trip to the State Quarterfinals against third-seeded Gilman this Friday.
Gilman got out to a 16-0 lead in the first quarter last week on the way to a 24-6 win over sixth-seeded Pittsville (5-4) in Level 1 for its sixth win in a row, after back-to-back losses to Greenwood (26-20) and Division 6 fourth-ranked Abbotsford (32-13) left the team at 2-2 Sept. 13.
“They’re having a real nice season,” said Bradley, who recorded his 100th career victory with the win over Athens. “They’re Wing T team that likes to run the ball, but they’re balanced with a quarterback that can either run it or throw it, and then they have a nice defense.
“They’ll bring a little different challenge for us than this past week, but we’ll focus on what we do, and continue to play the way we have been,” he said.
The winner Friday will move on to Level 3 to play at either third-ranked and top-seeded Edgar (9-1) or host ninth-ranked and fourth-seeded Hurley (8-2) Friday, Nov. 8.
“We’ve played really well this season, and we’re going to have to take care of the ball and win the line of scrimmage,” said Bradley. “We did a pretty nice job of that this past week, and that’s what we’re looking for this coming week.”
Top-seeded Amherst opened the postseason with a 42-6 win at home over eighth-seeded Peshtigo (5-5) Oct. 25, and will host fourth-seeded New Holstein in the playoffs for the third time in five years, after the Falcons won 35-13 at home in Level 1 last year and won 49-12 at home in Level 1 in 2015.
New Holstein won 28-20 over fifth-seeded Laconia (5-5) in Level 1 last week, and has losses this season to ninth-ranked Chilton (15-14), Sheboygan Falls (38-18) and Division 4 top-ranked Kiel (40-0).
“They’ve got some talent,” said Lusic. “They have an offense that’s kind of a Wing T-hybrid, they’ve got some athletes on the perimeter who can run the ball, and they’ve got some big boys up front.
“They’ve got a 6-5, 300-pounder, and a 6-6, 250-pounder, so we’re going to have our hands full,” he said. “We’re going to have to play well and make sure we score when we get opportunities, and get them off the field on third down.”
The winner Friday will advance to Level 3 to take on either 10th-ranked and second-seeded Kewaunee (9-1) or ninth-ranked and third-seeded Chilton (8-2) in the Division 5 State Quarterfinals Friday, Nov. 8.
“We’ve got to continue to strive to play a complete game,” said Lusic. “We haven’t done it all year, and we’re getting better, it’s just, we’re not where I want to be right now.
“Every week we try to strive for that, so that’s the key,” he said.