1 Games of the week
There are three games that are no doubt coming in with a lot of hype. Stratford, who is ranked fifth in the medium schools division in the Associated Press state poll, will travel to fellow undefeated Columbus. Meanwhile, Horicon/Hustisford will make its way out to play Palmyra-Eagle and Cambria-Friesland will try to upend undefeated Johnson Creek to open up Trailways Small Conference play. If you want to see if the Cardinals defense can keep up with a high-powered Tigers offense, then Columbus is the place for you. If you want to see entertaining offenses that can put up points, then travel to Palmyra to watch the MarshFalcons do battle with the Panthers. Or you can watch the Hilltoppers try to give the Bluejays their first loss of the season.
2 Two unbeatens do battle
For the first third of the season, Columbus has been a team focused on proving the last couple years were flukes. Many of the players this season took their bumps and bruises during that span and so far this season have shown the experience they gained is starting to pay dividends. The Cardinals are 3-0 with an overpowering run game and a defense that turns out big play after big play. They’re hoping that continues when Stratford, another unbeaten team, comes to town. The Tigers haven’t given up a point all season and have amassed 728 rushing yards, 208 passing yards and 23 touchdowns (15 rushing, 8 passing). The Cardinals are by far the best team the Tigers have faced so far this season on paper. Columbus running back Caden Brunell has rushed for 587 of the team’s 865 yards and has scored nine touchdowns. Quarterback Will Cotter has rushed for 163 yards and three TDs. Columbus’ passing game hasn’t found the end zone as many times as Stratford’s, but Cotter has completed half of his passes for 251 yards and a touchdown. If the Cardinals want to stay undefeated against a very good team, the defense has to continue to make big plays like it has all season long.
3 Fight for Trailways Large supremacy
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While Horicon/Hustisford, Markesan and Dodgeland have been the teams to battle for the top spot in the Trailways Large Conference the past three seasons, Palmyra-Eagle has been in the next tier. With the Panthers defeating Dodgeland to open up league play, they’re the only Trailways Large team with an 3-0 overall record while the Hornets, Pardeeville, Husticon and Montello/Princeton/Green Lake are all 2-1. This week, the MarshFalcons will get a chance to put the Panthers in their place as they showcase a very talented signal-caller under center in quarterback Dylan Schmitt. The MarshFalcons have accumulated 1,117 total yards from scrimmage (564 passing, 553 rushing) through three weeks, with Schmitt accounting for 910 of those yards (564 passing, 346 rushing). He has thrown for four touchdowns and run for four more. The Panthers will definitely be eyeing the 6-foot quarterback who has given teams fits all season long. On defense, the MarshFalcons will have their hands full with Palmyra-Eagle quarterback Brandon Wilde, who has thrown for 696 yards and six touchdowns while completing 60.2% of his passes. While Wilde has proven to be a great pocket passer — he leads the conference in passing yards — he has thrown four interceptions. Husticon only has two interceptions, but has recovered six fumbles and has 17 tackles for loss and one sack on the season.
4 Bluejays flying in
Cambria-Friesland helped coach Jim Bylsma earn his 250th victory last week when the Hilltoppers routed Wild Rose 53-8. However, his 251st win could be special if they can swat down an undefeated Bluejays team that is ranked seventh among schools in the AP poll. The Bluejays have rushed for 671 yards and 11 touchdowns while throwing for 350 yards and five touchdowns. Quarterback Justin Swanson has completed 60% of his passes and has rushed for a team-high 283 yards and six touchdowns. Running back Sam Budig has scampered for 239 yards and four touchdowns. The Bluejays will have a plethora of players to look out for this week. C-F’s Max Raymond has rushed for 345 yards and three touchdowns, proving to be a quality workhorse in the backfield. Joseph Pulver has completed 10 of 27 passes for 222 yards and four touchdowns. His favorite receiving threat has been Cade Burmania, who has caught seven passes for 181 yards and two touchdowns. Burmania is also dangerous on special teams with an 88-yard kickoff return for a touchdown against Dodgeland last week.
5 Hornets look to keep winning
It’s hard to believe Dodgeland is 1-2 overall, but that is where the Trojans are at, and it could get worse as Trailways Large Conference rival Markesan comes to town this week. Coach John Dunlavy has the Hornets on a two-game winning streak, beating previously undefeated Montello/Princeton/Green Lake to open up league play last week after a win over Rosendale Laconia in Week 2. So the Hornets are on a high that could help them against a Dodgeland team that has Nate Oestreich, who has rushed for 458 yards and six touchdowns. The Trojans also have Seth Christopherson, who has run for 147 yards and two more touchdowns. The Trojans are a running team that has amassed 721 yards and 10 touchdowns on the ground. The Hornets have given up just 242 rushing yards and one touchdown, as opposing teams are averaging just 2.3 yards a carry against Markesan. On offense, the Hornets are very balanced. They have thrown for 380 yards and two touchdowns, while running for 365 yards and seven touchdowns. Quarterback Hayden Quade has thrown for all but 18 of the Horntets’ passing yards and has rushed for 115 yards. Max Stellmacher leads the team with 116 rushing yards and four touchdowns.