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Pearson was in!

It has been 16 years, but loyal Northwestern High School football fans still talk about the failed extra-point conversion in a 1994 level 2 playoff game against Baldwin-Woodville.

It has been 16 years, but loyal Northwestern High School football fans still talk about the failed extra-point conversion in a 1994 level 2 playoff game against Baldwin-Woodville.

The game was played at Hayward and ended in a 7-6 Northwestern Tiger loss that ended the high school careers of stalwarts such as Tom Burke, Brooks Hannula, Matt Ronchi, Neil Hakkila, Dan Horst and Byron Nollet.

Mention Jeff Pearson's attempt to get into the end zone for a two-point conversion and the Tiger faithful contend he was in. Baldwin-Woodville fans defer to the officials, who were closer to the play.

It was a classic matchup of two outstanding teams. Baldwin-Woodville had been the state champion in 1992 and Northwestern was the state runner-up in 1993, so both teams had high hopes. The Blackhawks went on to finish second in the state.

It is with that bur under the saddle that Tiger fans approach Saturday's WIAA Division 4 level 3 playoff game against . . . Middle Border tri-champion Baldwin-Woodville.

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Again both teams are outstanding, with top-seeded Northwestern at 11-0 and the Blackhawks coming in at 10-1.

Baldwin-Woodville features linebacker/tight end Jake Keefer, ranked by the respected wissports.net Web site as the second best senior high school player in Wisconsin this year. He has accepted a scholarship offer to play for the Badgers next season. Riley Anderson is a 1,000 yard rusher, and Jordan Weyer is a more than capable quarterback.

Northwestern features running backs T.J. Polkoski (26 touchdowns), Kasey Leggate (19) and Zak Anttila (11). The interior line includes Taylor Truan, Jake Levine, Will Pederson, Logan Tuura and Brandon Rounsville. Quarterback Cody Kontny has proved to be another option through the air.

Dennis Scherz' defense has been stiff with five shutouts. The first team has allowed only one rushing touchdown this year and stonewalled Bloomer twice inside the five in last Saturday's 28-0 victory.

Defensive coordinator David Crail rotates linemen Nick Kavajecz, Josh Zimner, Brock Haugrud, Truan, Josh Moniot and Duncan Magerl to keep them fresh. Sam Schiff and Justin Alexson add a ferocious pass rush from their linebacker spots. Inside backers Polkoski and Mac Torrey lead the team in tackles. The defensive backfield of Leggate, Nolan Graff, Tyler Forsythe and Ryan Santikko has been tested but held Bloomer's Matt Schley to a 1-11 passing performance last week with three interceptions.

Kicker Adam Holden was 4-for-4 on extra points against Bloomer, while Leggate and Dee Burse are dangerous return men.

Northwestern and Baldwin-Woodville played five times in the WIAA playoffs between 1992 and 1999. The Tigers won the last three meetings.

The teams also played a regular season matchup for about four years, ending in 2003 with a 31-0 Tiger win.

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The winner of Saturday's game advances to the level 4 game, which is the state semifinal. The foe will be the winner of the Kewaunee vs. Manitowoc Roncalli game. Big Foot, last year's state champion, is still alive in the southeast bracket.

Saturday's games can be heard on WNXR 107.3 FM with a 30-minute pre-game show. The WNXR broadcast will be streamed live at wnxrfm.com, and the game will also be shown online at www.ifan.tv .

Related Topics: FOOTBALL
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