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Tigers have big game at Bloomer

The Northwestern High School football team will arguably play its biggest regular-season game in recent memory when it plays at Bloomer at 7 p.m. Friday, Sept. 14.

Even though the season is just four weeks old, both teams are sitting at 4-0 overall and 2-0 in the Heart O’ North Conference.

“Whoever wins will be the final remaining undefeated team in the HON and will have the inside track to the conference title,” NHS coach Jovin Kroll said. “The winner will also likely host the playoff game between our two teams, if we end up running into each other in the postseason.”

Bloomer, ranked No. 5 among Division 4 teams in Wisconsin, owns HON wins over Ladysmith (46-20) and Spooner (28-14), while Northwestern, No. 9 in the same poll, has defeated Cumberland (48-20) and Chetek-Weyerhaeuser (56-6).

The Tigers play Hayward, Spooner and Ladysmith over the next three weeks.

Bloomer has plenty of weapons, including quarterback Zach Ruf, who last year had 2,112 total yards and 30 total touchdowns on offense and seven interceptions on defense. Running back Caleb Ruf also had a pretty good year with 1,115 rushing yards and 13 total touchdowns.

Zach Ruf is back at it again this season with 475 yards and 10 touchdowns on 46 carries. He is also 23-of-42 passing for 547 yards and three TDs.

Caleb Ruf has rushed for 379 yards and six TDs; Leif Iverson has 222 yards and four TDs; and Brady Sarauer leads Bloomer with nine catches for 206 yards.

“Bloomer is a big-play offense,” Kroll said. “We have to attempt to contain the quarterback and tailback, and not let the big tight end beat us deep.”

Northwestern also has a big-play offense led by future Minnesota Duluth Bulldog Reagan Ruffi, who has rushed for 698 yards and 15 touchdowns.

Ruffi is averaging 174.5 yards a game and has TD runs of 72, 69 and 59 yards.

Trevor Janowicz also has 285 yards and three TDs rushing. Isaiah Huray is the Tigers' short-yardage threat with four TDs despite just 48 yards.

Junior quarterback Jake Brill is 7-of-18 passing for 107 yards, which includes a 7-yard TD pass to Brody Payton, who has four catches for 71 yards.

“We'll need to continue to protect the football and stay ahead of the chains,” Kroll said. “We haven't struggled much on offense thus far, and we will need to be disciplined to continue to be successful.”

Last year’s game was also played in Bloomer with the Blackhawks winning 30-16. Northwestern won 20-0 in 2016 in Maple.

“The bottom line is that whoever wins will likely end up with at least a share of the conference title when the season ends here in a few more weeks,” Kroll said. “We’re headed to their field, so clearly most people outside our program see us as the underdogs. I think our kids will show up and play like they have a lot to prove.”

TIGER TALES: Bloomer won its 26th HON football title last season and has won five titles during coach John Post’s 14 seasons with the Blackhawks. … Northwestern has won 11 HON titles, including sharing the title with Hayward and Chetek-Weyerhaeuser in 2016 and Hayward in 2015. Coaches Poll

Division 4

  1.  St. Croix Central 4-0 1

    2.  Lodi 4-0 2

    3.  Martin Luther 4-0 3

    4.  Racine St. Catherine's 4-0 4

    5.  Bloomer 4-0 5

    6.  Little Chute 4-0 6

    7.  Wrightstown 4-0 7

    8.  Kiel 4-0 8

    9.  Northwestern 4-0 10

    10. Platteville 4-0 UR

Heart O’ North Conference

2018 Football Standings

Northwestern (4-0) 2-0

Bloomer (4-0) 2-0

Ladysmith (1-2) 1-1

Hayward (1-3) 1-1

Cumberland (2-2) 1-1

Spooner (2-2) 1-1

Chetek-Weyerhaeuser (1-3) 0-2

Barron (1-3) 0-2

Friday, Sept. 7

Bloomer 46, Ladysmith 20

Cumberland 47, Barron 6

Northwestern 56, Chetek-Weyerhaeuser 6

Spooner 45, Hayward 12

Friday, Sept. 14

(All games at 7 p.m)

Spooner at Barron

Northwestern at Bloomer

Cumberland at Chetek-Weyerhaeuser

Ladysmith at Hayward

Friday, Sept. 21

Barron at Chetek-Weyerhaeuser

Bloomer at Cumberland

Spooner at Ladysmith

Hayward at Northwestern