New Richmond, B-W take on top seeds in WIAA football playoffs on Saturday

Just because the New Richmond and Baldwin-Woodville aren’t the top seeds in their sectional football bracket, it shouldn’t mean that either team is an underdog in their WIAA Level 3 playoff games on Saturday afternoon.
New Richmond will face undefeated Appleton Xavier in the Division 3 playoffs. That game will be played at 2 p.m. on Saturday at Chippewa Falls High School.
Baldwin-Woodville will host Northwestern in the Division 4 playoffs. That game is also a 2 p.m. start on Saturday.
Xavier is undefeated, but New Richmond enters Saturday’s game riding an eight-game winning streak. Xavier was the top seed in the district bracket, while New Richmond was the third seed. Last Saturday, New Richmond knocked off second-seeded Rice Lake, 14-13.
It could be easily argued that New Richmond has played a more difficult schedule than Xavier this season, though both teams had a large share of one-sided games.
Xavier relies heavily on its defense. The Hawk defense has held its last 10 opponents to seven points or less. New Richmond’s defense has been just as fierce, allowing an average of four points per game over its past eight games.
Both New Richmond and Xavier have diverse offenses. Because both teams were well ahead in many of their games, they spread the offensive wealth around through the team. Xavier’s leading rusher is Matt Siciliano with 650 yards, but he averages less than five carries this season.
Xavier made its mark with its defense this season, but the Hawks will get their best test of the season in the New Richmond offense. New Richmond moves the ball consistently with its trio of running backs in Cody Taubman, Shaun Peper and Dillon Hall. New Richmond hasn’t had to pass often this season, but quarterback Zach Kier has shown he can handle the job. With receivers like Justice Harvieux, Zack Johnson and Dalton Sabby, the Tigers can track down most of his passes.
Baldwin-Woodville and Northwestern should be a head-knocker. Northwestern is undefeated after going 12-1 a season ago.
There are few teams in the state that can match Northwestern’s two-back running attack. T.J. Poloski and Kasey Legatte have both rushed for more than 1,300 yards this season and they’ve combined for 42 touchdowns.
Baldwin-Woodville is coming off perhaps its finest performance of the season in a 28-14 win over Somerset last Saturday. The headliner for the Blackhawks is all-state senior Jake Keefer, who is signed, sealed and delivered to play for the Wisconsin Badgers next year.
Keefer, son of B-W coach Dan Keefer, was just a cog in the Blackhawks’ offensive success last week. The mix of running and passing kept Somerset’s defense off balance and showed that the Blackhawks are not a one-man team. Any team that underestimates the contributions of B-W seniors Riley Anderson, Cody Berends and Jordan Weyer will get burned.
The Blackhawks showed they can shut down a top running attack when they limited Somerset to 66 yards on the ground Saturday. The final outcome this Saturday will likely hinge on whether the Blackhawks can reproduce that level of success again.