By Paul Lecker
SPENCER — As expected at this point in the football season, Spencer/Columbus will face a formidable opponent in its next playoff game.
Spencer/Columbus (8-3) will play at Little Chute (9-2) in a WIAA Division 4 Level 3 playoff at 4 p.m. Saturday at Little Chute High School. The game will be broadcast on WOSQ-FM 92.3 and wdlbwosq.com.
The Rockets defense has been stingy all season long, giving up more than 20 points just three times, and they did win two of those games, including last week’s 28-27 Level 2 win at Wautoma.
In the contest against Wautoma, the final score came down to extra points as each team scored four touchdowns. Spencer/Columbus made two of four two-point conversions while Wautoma kicked successful extra points on its first three touchdowns.
After the final touchdown of the game, which Wautoma scored 37 seconds into the fourth quarter, they mishandled the snap and failed on a pass play that would have put them ahead 29-28. Neither team scored over the final 11 minutes, and the Rockets escaped with a one-point win.
This week will provide a different challenge as Little Chute throws the ball nearly as much as it runs.
Senior quarterback Sam Merryfield has 258 pass attempts for the Mustangs and has been one of the most efficient signal callers in the state.
Merryfield has completed 65 percent of his passes for 2,231 yards and 20 touchdowns while throwing just four interceptions. His yardage total ranks eighth in all of Wisconsin, and his favorite receiver, Scott Hietpas, is tied for 11th in the state with 62 catches and ranks ninth with 973 receiving yards. He has caught 11 of Merryfield’s 20 touchdown passes.
The Mustangs have a productive running game as well. Senior Shane Schwaller has 976 yards and 20 touchdowns. He went for 127 yards and three touchdowns on the ground and caught another for a score in last week’s 35-8 win over Bangor.
The challenge will be a stiff one for the Rockets, but as has happened time and again this season, someone at some point will make a big play. With the game on the line last week against Wautoma, Spencer/Columbus came up with an interception and a stop on fourth down in the final seconds to preserve the win.
“We don’t have any reason to doubt that someone would step up and make a play,” Rockets coach Jason Grost said. “It’s not always pretty, but they make that key play. These kids have a lot of character, a lot of heart.”
Spencer/Columbus will try to control the ball again like it did last week and keep it away from Little Chute’s high-powered offense.
Three of the Rockets’ four scoring drives last week were 11 plays or longer, and all four went for 70-plus yards.
The three-headed rushing attack of Mitch Susa, Tyler Voda, and Hunter Hildebrandt combined for 235 yards on 38 carries against Wautoma.
(Hub City Times Sports Reporter Paul Lecker is also the publisher of MarshfieldAreaSports.com.)
|Points per game||27.0||33.2|
|Rushing avg. for||239.5||159.3|
|Passing avg. for||80.4||204.5|
|Rushing avg. against||129.6||85.8|
|Passing avg. against||105.9||116.1|
|All-time playoff record||5-5||8-16|