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All three teams hit the road this week for interesting matchups

All three teams hit the road this week for interesting matchups All three teams hit the road this week for interesting matchups


All three of Taylor County’s high school football teams are taking road trips for week six of 2020’s seven-week regular season.

_ The only county team playing a conference game is Rib Lake-Prentice. The Hawks will be on the road for the third straight week, this time visiting Lake Holcombe-Cornell.

While Grantsburg and Hurley have separated themselves as the best teams in the Lakeland Conference and Unity looks to be just a notch below them, the other five teams appear to be pretty evenly matched. The 1-1 Hawks are expecting a third straight close game in this contest that will be played at Lake Holcombe.

The Knights come in with a 3-2 conference record and a three-game winning streak. After getting humbled by Hurley (39-6) and Grantsburg (65-13), they’ve righted the ship with wins over Ladysmith (22-8), Webster (28-26) and Flambeau (20-8). They came back from a 26-7 halftime deficit to win at Webster.

The program qualified for the WIAA playoffs the last three years but has firstround exits in each of those appearances.

The Knights rely on a ground game powered by Tate Sauerwein, a 5-10, 210-pound senior who has piled up 910 yards and 10 touchdowns in the team’s first five games. He had 223 yards in Friday’s win over Flambeau, including second-half touchdown runs of 66 and 75 yards.

“Their offense really runs through number 29,” Hawks’ co-head coach Jonah Campbell said. “He’s kinda that make or break point. You might bottle him up on a couple of plays, but he’s the type of player they just keep giving it to and he eventually just wears down defenses. He’ll cut back, he can be fast, he can run people over. He’s their weapon.”

Defensively, Campbell said the Knights aren’t flashy but, in the last three weeks, they’ve found ways to limit their opponents.

The Hawks made their Lakeland Conference debut Oct. 16 with a 24-22 win at Ladysmith and had Webster on the ropes Friday, but being minus-five in turnovers were a the deciding factor in a 20-14 overtime loss to the Tigers.

Friday’s kickoff is set for 7 p.m.

In a side note, the Lakeland Conference championship will likely be decided Friday when Grantsburg visits Hurley. The teams were supposed to play Friday in Grantsburg, but there was a mix-up and no officials showed up. Luckily, Hurley and Grantsburg were scheduled this week to play Ladysmith and Flambeau, whose week-one game was canceled. So those two teams will now play Friday at Flambeau.

_ A COVID-related cancellation with Lakeland is leading Medford to Rice Lake this Friday, a trip the Raiders, who remain ranked second in Division 3 this week, would’ve made back on Aug. 21 if 2020 had been a normal season.

Typically, the season opener against the Warriors serves as a great measuring stick for the Raiders and an eye opener to see where they need to improve before going into conference play. This year, the matchup may come at a good time as the Raiders are looking to shore up some things before heading into a monster GNC matchup next week at Rhinelander and whatever playoff games they may get in November.

Medford won last year’s game 14-0, which was the program’s first win in the series since 2011.

“As we well know from our first two (non-conference) weeks –– which is part of the reason I like having Rice Lake and somebody else that’s really good –– competition makes you better,” Medford head coach Ted Wilson said.

Rice Lake comes into this game at 0-5, but this is one of those cases where a team can’t be judged by its record. The smallest school in the Big Rivers Conference, Rice Lake has been in every game this season against top-notch competition.

“They’re probably the best 0-5 team I’ve ever seen on film,” Wilson said. “They’re good. They play in an extremely tough league over there. They’re very well-coached. They’re going to be disciplined. They have a really good athlete at quarterback (Cole Fenske) and a really good athlete at wide receiver (Alex Belongia). We’re going to really need to take a step forward to be in the game. I think they’re going to be the best team Week 6 football games

we’ve seen to date.”

Wilson said the Warriors have thrown in a few wrinkles here and there, but generally they still run an option-based offense that will take discipline to defend. Defensively, the Warriors have given up an average of 27 points per game, which is respectable while facing the perennial playoff teams like Menomonie, Hudson, Chippewa Falls, New Richmond and River Falls.

“They’re going to be very good,” Wilson said.

Big Rivers Conference policies this year allow for no visiting fans at football games. Raiders fans should watch for an announcement on the live stream link for the game.

_ After completing Central Wisconsin West Conference play at 5-0, the Gilman Pirates have scheduled two additional games, starting with a trip to Clayton tonight, Thursday. The game kicks off at 6 p.m.

The Bears come into the contest with a 3-2 record compiled in the Lakeland West Conference. They’ve lost 31-12 to Shell Lake and 40-18 to Luck, who was ranked as the state’s top eight-man team at the time. Clayton beat Frederic 16-0 last week and Prairie Farm (34-18) and Siren (26-25) earlier in the month. Prairie Farm beat a short-handed Luck team last week to knock them off the top of the rankings.

Gunnar Lewis, a 5-10, 170-pound senior, is coming off a monster 270-yard game against Frederic. He’s at 751 yards for the season. He had 193 yards and three touchdowns against Siren and 151 yards and five touchdowns against Prairie Farm. He also leads Clayton with 23 receptions for 205 yards.

“They do have size,” Gilman head coach Robin Rosemeyer said. “They have nine kids 195 pounds or more. They have the athleticism and size to make them a very tricky opponent so to speak. They have a good rushing. They run a shotgun I-formation, but most of the time it’s behind an unbalanced line with a tight end, center, guard, guard, tight end. So that will be a little change for us. Then they’re athletic enough where they’ll go shotgun and trips receivers and spread the formation out. It’s kinda like facing two different teams.”

Gilman goes to Newman Catholic on Nov. 6 for what could be a matchup between two of the state’s top three ranked eight-man teams. This week, Gilman is number-three and Newman is numberone.