Despite clinching a share of the Heart O’ North Conference football last week with a 42-18 win at Bloomer, the Northwestern High School football team still has some unfinished business to tend to.
The Tigers still want to win the HON title outright and finish undefeated in league play for the second straight season.
Standing in the way of those accomplishments are the Chetek-Weyerhaeuser Bulldogs, whom the Tigers host at 7 p.m. Friday, Oct. 18, at Gordon L. Nelson Field.
“All in all, last week was a success,” NHS coach Jovin Kroll said. “A second straight HON title is nice. The kids want to go undefeated again, and then give the playoffs their best shot.”
Chetek-Weyerhaeuser, which is coming off a 28-6 win over Barron, still has a slim chance at making the playoffs with a record of 3-5, and a win over the state’s fourth-ranked Tigers would help make a statement.
“This will be the 26th time or so we’ve been in the playoffs, and if we want to make a memorable run into November, we need to stay focused on improving, growing as an offense and defense, and fix some elements of our play we are not satisfied with,” Kroll said. “If we want any hope of a No. 1 seed (in the playoffs), we need to win decisively on Friday. We need to tackle well, stay true to our keys defensively, and communicate on offense.”
The Bulldogs run a balanced offense with 1,149 yards rushing and 1,258 passing.
The Bulldogs' offense is led by Dakota Hermann, who has completed 53-of-92 passes for 1,149 yards and rushed for 532 yards. He also has 18 touchdowns, 11 passing and seven rushing.
Ashton Kummet is next with 376 yards and four TDs on 52 carries, and Sam Grothberg and Carter Hanson both have 15 receptions for 501 and 339 yards, respectively. The two have combined for nine TD catches.
Kroll and the Tigers are hoping for a better start that last week when they trailed 6-0 after one quarter.
“Friday’s win at Bloomer was tough. We were on the road against a quality opponent in a rivalry game in adverse weather,” Kroll said. “They came out in a formation we hadn’t seen from them this year, and we had players playing different positions than they us been practicing all week due to some illnesses.
“The kids fell behind, but did not panic. Instead, they fought for a pretty decisive victory.”
The Tigers dominated the second quarter with three straight short TD runs from Brennen Werner and a 15-yard TD pass from Jake Brill to Colin Trautt.
After a scoreless third quarter, Trautt had a 42-yard TD run and Brill threw an 8-yard TD pass to Dayne Evanson.
Brill has completed 59% of his passes (36-of-61) for 758 yards and 12 TDs.
Trautt, who rushed for 182 yards last week, leads the Tigers with 618 yards rushing and nine TDs.
Werner is next with 499 yards and nine TD; Bryson Mazur had 475 yards and four TDs; and Brill has 369 yards and three TDs.
Evanson has a team-high 15 receptions for 265 yards and six TD, followed by Trautt with 11 catches for 176 yards and two TDs.
TIGER TALES: Northwestern has a 16-game unbeaten streak in the HON. The Tigers’ last conference loss was 40-21 to Cumberland at home on Oct. 6, 2017.