« Sports

Defense should rule when West travels to Appleton North

by Chris Schulte

Defense will be on display tonight when Wausau West travels to Appleton North in a Valley Football Association North Division contest that could go a long way in deciding the conference champion.

Wausau West and conference champion is not typically used the same sentence.But after last week's 27-9 win over D.C. Everest the Warriors improved to 3-1 overall and 2-0 in conference play. The game featured a dominating second half performance that saw the Warriors outscore the Evergreens 20-0 in the second half.

The Lightning of Appleton North should prove to be the Warriors' toughest test of the season by far.

Appleton North is unbeaten (4-0, 2-0) and has outscored its opponents 128-36 behind a devastating rushing attack featuring Ethan Danz and Dan Rothbauer, averaging 149 and 108.8 yards per game, respectively. Rothbauer, the quarterback, also has throw three touchdown passes, but has been intercepted four times.

The defense, which has outscored opponents 47-3 in the second quarter this season, is led by Connor Rolain with 26 tackles. Mark Gajewski, Cole Salm and Tyce Wheeler have combined for 19 tackles for losses.

West's defense can certainly hold its own, having given up just 28 points in its four games. The most points the Warriors have yielded is 10, which came in their lone loss, a 10-7 defeat to SPASH.

The Warriors' defense is led by a host of players, including Chris Clementi, Drew Pearson, Jacob Martin and others. Martin and Jake Whalen have combined for seven touchdowns and Martin is averaging 102 yards per carry.

West has held its four opponents scoreless in the third quarter, proof that coach Kevin Grundy and his staff has been making effective adjustments at halftime. With the Lightning's prowess in the second quarter, Grundy's group may need to make its adjustments between the second and third.

It should shape up to be a thriller and the weather should cooperate with clear skies and temperatures in the 60s throughout the contest.