By RICK SOLEM
Last year, the Logan High School football team was a win away from its first-ever state tournament berth.
Most of those starters return to this year’s squad, and they’re a win away from matching what they did last season.
Undefeated Logan (11-0), ranked 11th in the final AP poll, hosts Rice Lake (8-3) at 7 p.m. tonight at Swanson Field in the quarterfinals of the WIAA Division 3 playoffs. You can watch live by clicking here.
What those players went through, from going further than any Logan team before it, to the heartbreak of losing so close to chance to play for the title at Camp Randall, is something not many teams can experience.
Rice Lake does not have that experience and coach Dan Hill knows it.
“That thing they’ll have, they got that playoff experience,” Hill said. “Whenever you have a senior-loaded team, that’s two things going for you. One, they know this is their last year. Plus they’ve been in the playoffs. Last year, we missed the playoffs.”
Logan has been in one tight game this season, the 3-0 win over Holmen, it’s main foe the last few seasons. Holmen is a triple-option team in which anyone is capable of carrying the ball. Rice Lake isn’t much different.
“We’re taking what they’re giving,” Hill said of opposing defenses. “People ask, ‘Who’s going to get the ball?’ We don’t know.
“We run what we run and the defense is going to determine who gets it. The good thing about that, this year, it doesn’t matter which one of them gets it. They’re all dangerous.”
The most dangerous of the bunch, 5-foot-7, 160-pound Isaiah Secerest. The junior halfback has rushed 108 times for 1,202 yards (11.1 avg.) and 13 touchdowns.
“He’s extremely quick,” Hill said of Secerest. “You can coach kids in drills to step at them, step away, a couple of moves. But a lot of what he does are natural moves and he’s very strong.”
Rice Lake’s three main ball carriers have double-digit TDs, including quarterback Erik Hovde.
Much like Holmen’s Camryn Zimmerman, Hovde is a big threat with the ball with 630 yards (8.2 avg.) and 12 touchdowns. Unlike Zimmerman, however, Hovde, a 5-10, 190-pound senior, is a bigger threat to pass.
He’s thrown for 1,213 yards, 11 touchdowns and five interceptions. He makes Rice Lake’s triple-option a quadruple-option.
“We’re flexible in triple-option. We break formation,” Hill said. “We’ve been scoring a lot of points. My philosophy is balance. You don’t win a championship if you don’t score points.
“This year, our offense is diverse. It’s been very good to have that kind of balance.”
What sets Logan apart from Rice Lake comes on the other side of the ball. Logan’s defensive numbers are vastly superior.
While both teams score about the same amount of points, Rice Lake is giving up 26, while the Rangers don’t even give up 10. The Warriors are also giving up 313 yards to Logan’s 201.
Beyond that, both teams share a couple common opponents and one of those results is in Logan’s favor.
Rice Lake beat Eau Claire North 41-21 on Sept. 12, while the Rangers won 21-14 on Aug. 30.
Logan also beat Eau Claire Memorial 27-21 to open the season, while the Warriors lost Oct. 10 to Memorial 43-35.
That came a week after a 30-24 loss to a Superior team that shut out Holmen in the first round of the playoffs 21-0 and is still alive in the Division 2 playoffs.
Based on that, it’s anyone’s guess who’s going to come out on top.
|Isaiah Secerest (RL)||108||1,202||11.1||13|
|Erik Hovde (RL)||77||630||8.2||12|
|Alain Pierre (RL)||101||483||4.8||10|
|Kyle Bakalars (L)||149||1,498||10.1||23|
|Aric Elmore (L)||83||763||9.2||8|
|Erik Hovde (RL)||57-96||1,213||59.4||110.3||11||5|
|Trey Davis (L)||32-59||467||54.2||93.4||4||1|
|Noah Pierce (RL)||37||897||24.2||8|
|Dakota Horton (L)||17||297||17.5||2|
|Aric Elmore (L)||11||175||15.9||2|
|Evan Verhota (L)||12||147||12.2||6|