Tigers get another shot at BloomerBloomer hosts the Northwestern Tigers in a Wisconsin Interscholastic Athletic Association Division 4 playoff game at 7 p.m. today — the second meeting of the two football teams in as many weeks.
By: Emily Kram, Superior Telegram
For the Northwestern Tigers it’s a do-over. For the Bloomer Blackhawks it’s a chance to prove they’re back in form.
Bloomer hosts the Northwestern Tigers in a Wisconsin Interscholastic Athletic Association Division 4 playoff game at 7 p.m. today — the second meeting of the two football teams in as many weeks.
“We look forward to it,” said Dennis Scherz, head coach of the Tigers. “I don’t think our team showed up on Friday night, and now we have a chance to correct that.”
The Tigers lost their shot at the Heart O’ North Conference title Friday when Bloomer dealt them a 23-0 defeat. Northwestern failed to gain 200 yards of total offense for the first time this season and finished with just 122 yards rushing.
“We didn’t get off the ball,” Scherz said. “You have to control the line of scrimmage, and we didn’t.
“We were a step slow, and when you’re a step slow, you’re too late.”
The loss dropped the Tigers to 5-2 in the HON Conference and denied them their third title in four years.
It also had a major impact on Northwestern’s seeding for the playoffs. The Tigers are ranked No. 5 behind the two teams that defeated them in the regular season: Bloomer (No. 4) and Barron (No. 3).
Somerset (6-1, 7-1) earned the No. 1 seed, and Northland Pines (6-0, 8-0) earned the No. 2 seed.
“We had a legitimate shot at a No. 1 seed prior to that game Friday night, but after that game, we’re a No. 5 seed,” Scherz said.
Tonight’s game will be the seventh meeting between Bloomer and Northwestern in the last five seasons. The two teams are 3-3 in match-ups dating back to 2008; and of those games, four have been shutouts — two for the Tigers and two for the Blackhawks.
The Blackhawks have the advantage in the past two meetings, outscoring Northwestern 48-0.
In the three games prior to that, Northwestern outscored Bloomer 120-7. That streak included a 28-0 Northwestern victory during the teams’ last playoff showdown in 2010.
Bloomer has qualified for the playoffs 21 times since 1983 and holds a 19-20 overall playoff record. The Blackhawks advanced to the Division 4 state semifinals last season.
Northwestern has made 20 appearances in the playoffs since 1987. The Tigers claimed the state title in 1988, were runners-up in 1993 and hold a 30-15 record in playoff games.
Northwestern’s offense has changed little since Coach Bill Pelkey led the Tigers to the Division 3 state title. A strong running game remains the hallmark of Tiger football, and more than 80 percent of Northwestern’s yards came on the ground this season.
The Tigers averaged 26.6 points per game and gave up 17.4 points during the regular season. In the past three games, however, Northwestern has been well off that average. The team averaged just 14.3 points per game and allowed 21.3 during that span.
Bloomer’s season has progressed in the opposite direction. The Blackhawks started off the season 1-3 with losses to Somerset, Barron and Cumberland but now enter the playoffs on a four-game winning streak.
Bloomer averaged 23.3 points per game during the regular season while giving up 14.3.
The Blackhawks have a good balance of running and passing, with quarterback Travis Mullen throwing for more than 1,000 yards and Colten Seibel leading the team on the ground. Seibel had 120 yards rushing against the Tigers last week and is closing in on 700 yards for the season.
For tonight’s game, Scherz said he hopes for a return to form for the Tigers. The team has spent the week viewing tape of Friday’s loss and making adjustments.
From the Blackhawks, Scherz expects to see an approach similar to last week’s.
“They beat us 23-0. Why would you change anything?” Scherz said. “I imagine Bloomer feels confident right now.”
The winner of tonight’s game will play either Somerset or Gale-Ettrick-Trempealeau.
In other action Northland Pines faces off with St. Croix Central tonight, and Barron hosts Spooner at 1 p.m. Saturday.
TIGER TALES: Bloomer is the only team to hold the Tigers scoreless in a regular season match for the past four seasons. The Tigers have suffered four shutouts since 2008, two against Bloomer. … The Blackhawks have not lost an opening round playoff game since 2006. The Tigers have lost in the first round only three times in school history: 1996, 2001 and 2011. … Northwestern holds a 5-0 record at home this season and is 1-2 on the road.
What:Wisconsin Division 4 first-round game
Records:Northwestern 6-2; Bloomer 6-2
Outlook: hese teams meet for the second consecutive week, with the loser’s season ending. Bloomer won 23-0 last week to forge a three-way tie for second place in the Heart O’North Conference and deprive the Tigers of a share of the title. Nathan Sikorski (158 attempts, 967 yards, 7 touchdowns) led Northwestern with 94 yards rushing on 23 carries. The Tigers completed only 1 of 9 passes, hurting their offense in the red zone. Fullback Mark Pooler (117-570, 11 TDs) and quarterback Peter Lindsay (56-378) are the team’s other top running threats. Lindsay has completed only 20 passes for 298 yards and 3 TDs. Northwestern has outscored teams 142-47 in the first half but has been outscored by three touchdowns in the second half. … The Blackhawks, who have been outscored in the first quarter this season, have held opponents to 33 second-half points this season. Bloomer is much more of a passing team, led by QB Travis Mullen (64 completions, 132 attempts, 848 yards, 4 TDs) and receiver Dustin Clark (16-292). Leading rusher Colten Seibel (90-556, 8 TDs) ground out 120 yards on 17 carries last week, while Ryan Buske (32-218, 5 TDs) scored twice.