A first for the Evergreens: a home playoff game
By: Emily Kram, Superior Telegram
For the past three seasons, the first round of the WIAA football playoffs has meant a long bus ride for the Northwood-Solon Springs Evergreens.
This year the Evergreens (7-1, 8-1) will stay put, as they face the Spring Valley Cardinals (4-2, 7-2) at 7 p.m. in Minong.
The winner of today’s game will play either No. 1 seed Athens or Marathon in next week’s Level 2 game. Athens and Marathon are scheduled to play at 1 p.m. Saturday.
“We’re very excited to be hosting our first every playoff game in school history,” Northwood-Solon Springs coach Brian Trettin said. “Our seniors are the first graduating class from Northwood-Solon Springs to be the group to qualify for the playoffs four years in a row. I know that they’re fired up to play their best game. After talking with our kids, our younger classmen are looking to play hard and do what they can to give our seniors their first playoff victory.”
Tonight’s game will match Spring Valley’s stifling defense against the Evergreens’ high-powered offense.
Both teams finished second in their respective conferences, and both are looking to reverse a first-round playoff trend.
The Cardinals won the Division 6 state title back-to-back in 2000 and 2001, but Spring Valley has been knocked out in the opening round in its past two appearances. This year marks Spring Valley’s first playoff appearance since 2008.
Northwood-Solon Springs has made the playoffs four straight years, but the Evergreens have suffered first-round losses in their past three appearances.
“This is a group of kids that has a large desire to play their best game on Friday,” Trettin said. “We have talked a lot about playing solid defense and holding on to the ball on offense. They have put in a lot of time on and off the field to win this game.”
The Cardinals have multiple scoring threats on the ground. Running backs Kyle Bosshart and Andy Bune and fullback Steven VonHaden all have more than 500 yards this season for the Cardinals.
Spring Valley also has a decent passing game, with Gabe Verges and Corey Schlosser as the main targets for quarterback Jon Newton.
“Spring Valley is a very solid football team this year,” Trettin said. “They start nine seniors on both offense and defense. Their defense will be the best defense we have seen all year. Offensively, they are similar to us. They are an option team that has good running backs and an offensive line that comes off the ball hard.”
The Cardinals averaged 27 point per game in the regular season, compared to nearly 36 for the Evergreens. Spring Valley dominated on the defensive end, however, holding opponents to 11.4 points per game. The Evergreens allowed 13.8 points per game.
Northwood-Solon Springs will be at nearly full health for tonight’s game. Leo Alcantar, who suffered an injury during Northwood’s game with Turtle Lake, remains sidelined with a sprained knee.
“He will be missed in our lineup,” Trettin said, but the first-year coach was pleased with his team’s overall health. “Being this late in the season and only having one guy out is a good feeling for a coach.”
The Evergreens saw Brandon Wilcox return to the field last week after being out since week one with a broken leg. Tyler Long, who missed last week’s game due to the flu, is also expected to play today.
NOTES: Two Evergreen players reached the 1,000-yard mark in last week’s non-conference match with Washburn. Josh Malone now has 1,234 yards for the season, while Phil Larson has exactly 1,000 yards rushing. … Spring Valley plays in the Dunn-St. Croix Conference and finished second in the standings to St. Croix Central this season. Spring Valley and St. Croix Central — a Division 4 school — were the only teams from the conference to make the playoffs.
Friday, Oct. 14
Northwood-SS 20 20 7 0 — 47
Washburn-Bayfield 0 6 0 0 — 6
N—Phil Larson 19-yard run (Gage Harwick kick)
N—Josh Malone 28-yard run (kick failed)
N—Chris Olson 32-yard run (Larson kick)
N—Malone 76-yard run (kick failed)
N—Malone 49-yard run (Larson kick)
N—Larson 17-yard pass to Mac Ohm (Harwick kick)
N—Malone 47-yard run (Harwick kick)
First downs 15 10
Rushing yards 450 110
Passing (comp.-att.) 2-5 3-9
Passing yards 31 42
Passing (TD-int.) 1-0 0-2
Total plays 36 60
Total offense 481 152
Fumbles-lost 4-4 0-0
Penalties-yards 4-25 4-20
Time of poss. 19:14 28:46
3rd down eff. 1-5 4-16
4th down eff. 1-2 2-4
Punts-avg. 0-0 6-28.5