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Tigers eye undefeated season

(Jed Carlson/ The Northwestern Tigers walk to the field before a game in Maple earlier this season.

With a regular-season title securely in hand, the Northwestern High School football team has its sights set on a few other goals.

The Tigers clinched their 11th Heart O’ North Conference championship with last week’s 56-22 win over Ladysmith, and now they want to finish the regular season undefeated.

Standing in the way of Northwestern’s first undefeated regular season since 2010 are the Barron Golden Bears (1-7 overall, 0-6 Heart O’ North Conference). The two play at 7 p.m. Friday, Oct. 12, in Barron.

“We need to finish 9-0, losing a game to the last-place team in our conference would be devastating for seeding purposes,” NHS coach Jovin Kroll said. “Very few teams have been able to go 9-0 in our program's history, so that is a feather that our players would like to have in their cap once they move on from high school and look back on their playing career.”

“We also need to head down there and use this game to prepare us for the playoffs.”

Despite a disappointing record, Barron has had some success passing the ball led by senior quarterback Warren Williams, who has completed 62-of-128 passes for 906 yards and 10 touchdowns.

His main target has been junior Wyatt Boe, who had 31 catches for 462 yards and five TDs. Other targets are junior Andrew Williams (16 catches, 160 yards), junior Chase Peltier (13-122) and senior Will Waldofski (10-121).

Peltier and Waldofski lead the Bears on the ground with 212 and 185 yards rushing, respectively.

“It’s the time of year when the weather gets poor, and focus sometimes slips away, so we are doing everything to lock in on taking care of business this week,” Kroll said.

Northwestern is led offensively by senior running back Reagan Ruffi, who returned from an injury to rush for 241 yards and five touchdowns in last week’s win over Ladysmith.

Ruffi is nearing the Tigers’ all-time rushing record of 1,788 yards, which he set last year. He currently has 1,250 yards rushing and 25 TDs, which is four better than his 21 TDs last season.

“Reagan had a nice week against Ladysmith,” Kroll said. “He was frustrated having to miss a game, but he certainly was able to pick up right where he left off in the first half against Hayward when he came out a couple weeks back.”

Adding to the Tigers’ vaunted running game are Trevor Janowicz, 540 yards and eight TDs; quarterback Jake Brill, 265 yards and two TDs; and Keegan Plasch, 201 yards and three TD.

Brill has also completed 19-of-40 passes for 475 yards and five TDs. His main target has been Brody Payton, who has 12 catches for 342 yards and four TDs.

On defense, Gervase Thompson IV leads the Tigers with 41 tackles, including 10 for loss, three sacks and three forced fumbles.

Keegan Plasch also has 35 tackles, Jagar Stillson had 28 tackles and four fumble recoveries, and Isaiah Huray has 22 tackles and three sacks.

The WIAA playoffs begin Friday, Oct. 19.

TIGER TALES: The Tigers also went undefeated during the 2009 regular season. … In 2010 the Tigers opened the playoffs with wins over St. Croix Falls and Bloomer before losing to Baldwin-Woodville, 14-0. … In 2009 they defeated St. Croix Central, Neillsville/Granton and Somerset before losing to Kewaunee 35-20 at D.C. Everest in Schofield. ... The Friday, Oct. 12, game will be carried live at and on the radio at WJJH 96.7 FM.

Rice Lake at Superior

Superior will wrap up its season by hosting Rice Lake at 7 p.m. Friday, Oct. 12, at the NBC Spartan Sports Complex.

The Warriors come to town with records of 6-2 overall and 4-2 in the BRC.

Despite clinching a playoff berth with last week’s 26-20 win over Menomonie, the Warriors are among four teams still in the running for a BRC title.

Hudson (7-1) and River Falls (7-1) are tied for first place in the BRC with 5-1 records, while Menomonie (6-2) is tied with Rice Lake in second.

Hudson is at Chippewa Falls, River Falls host Eau Claire North, and Menomonie is at Eau Claire Memorial.

Rice Lake's balanced offense is led by quarterback Peyton Buckley, who has completed 28-of-55 passes for 799 yards and 12 TDs. He is also second in rushing with 522 yards with nine TDs.

Buckley's go-to guy is DeAirus Clerveaux, who has 16 receptions for 486 yards and seven TD. Clerveaux is also Rice Lake's leading ground gainer with 533 yards and seven TDs.

Adding to the totals are Torien Hubbard, 452 yards rushing and four TDs, and Marquez Clerveaux, 398 yards and four TDs.

Superior's offense is led by junior quarterback Jarrett Gronski, who is 27-of-69 passing for 501 yards and eight TD. He also has a team-high 866 yards rushing with 14 TDs.

Chase Summerfield, who is coming off an 11-tackle, two-sack game against River Falls, leads the Spartans with 61 tackles, which includes 17 solo, eight TFL and three sacks.

Gabe Sexton also had 58 tackles and two sacks; and Trevor Dalbec and Will Schorr both have 54 tackles.

Tonight is also senior night for the Spartans (4-4, 2-4). Honored prior to the game will be Ryley Laughlin, Drew DeBruyne, Trevor Dalbec, Landon Lathrop, Conner Fonger, Nate Peterson, Chase Summerfield, Caelan Wick, Luke Soderstrom, Nathan Anderson, Derek Fender, Lars Root, Gabriel Sexton, Nathan Young, Nathan Peterson, Sam Gidley, Dylan Evavold, Jackson Krull, Nick Ward, James Bronson and Brahden Long.