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County football playoff teams look to go 1-0 this week

Ellsworth's star running back Dennis Schutz said after last week's win over Prescott that's the Panthers perfect regular season wasn't something that would be reflected on until after the season is over with.

"It's a humbling feeling to be sure," Schbutz said. "But I don't think it will sink in until after the season. We want to keep going 1-0 each week until it's over with."

Brett Bielema's old mantra of being 1-0 each week is a good rule of thumb for playoffs teams, especially for Pierce County's three playoff squad as the postseason begins tonight.

9-0 Ellsworth has the No. 1 seed in its Group A and will face No. 8 St. Croix Central (3-6) tonight at Fuller-Symes Field with the kick-off set for 7 p.m. Also tonight up in Hurley, Spring Valley, 6-3 overall, will take on No. 6 ranked Hurley, 8-1, who has the second seed in Group A. Then on Saturday afternoon Prescott, 6-3 overall, will host Spooner, 6-3 overall, in a match-up of 4-5 seeds with a 1 p.m. kick-off at Laney Field.

Although Ellsworth knows it's starting the playoffs at 0-0 being perfect in the regular season does have its rewards, like a home game in the first round against a team which lost all of its non-conference games this fall, including a 27-21 defeat to Baldiwn-Woodville in the first contest of the season.  SCC's best win and only win against a team with a winning record came against fellow playoff team Colfax, which like Spring Valley and SCC, all tied for third in the league behind No. 4 ranked Mondovi and Glenwood City.

"A good playoff team plays every down like there's no tomorrow," EHS head coach Clair Austin said. "I want the kids to be excited that they're playing at home with the pride in performance and the expectations that come with it. We want to make our home field one of the toughest venues to play at in this area."

Austin says SCC runs an offense similar to that of Red Wing. It's a spread based formation that looks for match-ups to exploit. Junior quarterback Jason Matteson has thrown for over 900 yards and four touchdowns and the Panthers are led in rushing by sophomore Trenten Smith, who has 475 yards on 105 carries and two touchdowns. Central's top receiver is junior Christopher Berg with 33 catches for nearly 400 yards and two TDs.

Schutz has done a lot for EHS the past few weeks but the Panthers hope to get back Brandon VanderMarliere from injury in this ballgame to balance out their offense. He has over 700 yards on mostly between-thre-tackle rushing. 

Prescott plays in the same bracket as Ellsworth and will play a Spooner team the Purple handled with a 33-7 win. Ellsworth's match-up against Prescott was much, much closer. This contest is not just a playoff game but also a test strength between the Middle Border and Heart' O North.

The Rails finished third in the Heart O'North with a 5-2 mark and they like to throw the ball. Spooner's senior quarterback Gavin Anderson has thrown for nearly 1500 yards and 18 TDs. Their top running back is sophomore Desi Fielding, a 5-11, 165-pound back who has  863 yards on 127 carries and seven touchdowns. Top receivers include senior Tanner Vik with 870 yards on 35 receptions and 13 touchdowns while junior Matthew Slaminski has nearly 300 yards in receptions.

Hurley's offense is mostly a ground attack led with three backs with over 300 yards rushing. Leading the way for the Midgets is senior 6-0, 195-pound fullback Mark Saari, who has 1,442 yards on 133 carries and 20 TDs. Teammate junior 5-11, 175-pound halfback Roman Lupino has nearly 700 yards rushing and eight TDs and sophomore halfback Mitchell Maki, 6-1, 195 pounds, has over 300 yards rushing on 52 carries and also eight touchdowns. Hurley's quarterback is a sophomore, 6-5, 200-pound James Sukan, who has throw for 475 yards and five touchdowns. Senior Jared Wendt, 6-3, 175-pounds, is the team's leading receiver with 15 catches for 271 yards and three touchdowns. Saari also leads Hurley in tackles with 66. he's also forced a fumbel nad has an interception from his middle linebacking position on defense. Hurley also has some big boidies up front to open holes for its back led by senior linemen Jordan Kolpin (6-5, 245 lbs.), Tate Massogila (5-11, 310 lbs.), Noah Clark (5-8, 240 lbs.), junior Jake Zeller (6-0, 255 lbs.) and sophomore Matt Christopherson (6-3, 285 lbs.)

The important thing Spring Valley wishes to do to win tonight's Division 6 ballgame is prevent Hurley from making big plays, the kinds that have kept Valley from being unebeaten or least with one loss.

"Defensively we need to eliminate big plays and we need to eliminate mistakes like penalties and turnovers because they are killers especially this time of the year," SV head coach Ryan Kapping said.  "We're striving for consistency and making sure that each individual is accountable for their job on each particular play. "

An Ellsworth will set-up a match-up vs. either No. 4 seed Gale-Ettrick-Trempealeau or Black River Falls next weekend. A Prescott win would put them against No. 2 seed and No. 4 ranked Somerset or their first round opponent Northland Pines (which will be a road contest either way) and Spring Valley will face either No. 2 seed and No. 7 ranked Athens or Eau Claire Regis.  

Links to the Division 4 and Division 6 brackets are below:

Division 4:

Division 6: