Middle Border Conference football games begin Friday with four intriguing matchups.
So, what have two weeks of non-conference games taught us about the eight MBC teams?
For sure, it’s shown us that a number of teams have hopes of being title contenders, or at least finishing above .500 so they can advance into the WIAA playoffs.
The schedule maker put together several intriguing matchups for the opening week of the MBC. Defending state champion Somerset faces Osceola, which has high hopes for the season. Durand, the reigning MBC champion, will get a severe test right away against Ellsworth. New Richmond and Baldwin-Woodville, two younger teams trying to prove themselves, get to square off. So do Prescott and Amery, who both could use a win to get some momentum building.
Somerset vs. Osceola at St. Croix Falls
This game has been moved to St. Croix Falls because Osceola’s new artificial turf stadium isn’t quite ready. For those who’ve never been to the SCF field, it is a rustic, enjoyable setting to watch football.
Somerset has started the season with a pair of wins against two talented opponents in Bloomer and Gale-Ettrick-Trempealeau. Somerset has new starters in 21 of the 22 positions, but the Spartans excel at having players ready to step in when their time comes.
Osceola returns one of the most experienced teams in the conference, though injuries may be an issue for the Chieftains. Lineman Thor Reimer has missed the first two games. The Chieftains had their hands full with St. Croix Falls before pounding on Hayward last Friday.
There is no love lost in the rivalry between the Chieftains and Spartans, so expect this to be a rough-and-tumble contest.
Durand at Ellsworth
Durand lost a great deal of talent to graduation and these Panthers have already suffered several key injuries. But make no mistake, Durand will keep coming at you with whoever they put on the field. With running backs the likes of T.J. Auth and Jacob Biestervield, Durand still has the ability to use time-consuming drives to control the clock.
Ellsworth has shown itself to be similar to Durand so far. The purple Panthers put a pounding on Red Wing on Friday, using a combination of ball control and an attacking defense. Sound familiar?
This should be one of the closest battles between the two Panther squads that we’ve seen in years.
Baldwin-Woodville at New Richmond
B-W is a difficult team to gauge at this point. They beat a struggling St. Croix Central team, but were surprised at Spooner last week. The Blackhawks already have three backs who’ve rushed for more than 100 yards in Logan Weyer, Joe Nawrocki and Devon Sundstrom. The Hawks appear able to score frequently, but they’ve given up a combined 50 points in their first two games too.
New Richmond had a meat grinder opening schedule, especially against a ferocious Rice Lake team. The Tigers were ahead of River Falls until a couple rookie mistakes on special teams put them in a bad spot. This Friday’s game will be the Tigers’ chance under new coach Keith Badger to establish an attack and be competitive throughout a game.
Amery at Prescott
Prescott might be the team that’s flying under the radar in the conference. The Cards haven’t given up a point yet, beating Barron 22-0 and St. Croix Falls 35-0. The Cards have some athletic kids at the skill positions and they’ve got some beef in the front line. Don’t be surprised if they go to Somerset next Friday with a 3-0 record.
Amery beat a struggling Hayward program in the first week of the season. The Warriors got taken to the woodshed by Bloomer last Friday, trailing 48-0 at halftime in a 58-12 demolition. The question is how will the Warriors bounce back from that demoralizing loss. Will it be a one-game blip on the radar or will it bring down the Warriors’ whole season?