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September 27, 2012

Appleton North-Kimberly tops Week 6 slate

Many of last week's winners clinched WIAA football playoff berths in the field of 224, but most conference titles remain up for grabs and dozens of other teams are fighting for postseason spots as Week 6 approaches.

Here are previews for some of the top matchups across the Badger State:

Kimberly at Appleton North
Arguably the biggest game on this week's slate, it will decide the Valley Football Association North Division title and give the winner a leg up in seeding for the playoffs.

The Lightning, ranked No. 2 in this week's WisconsinHigh.com Division 1 poll, won last year's contest, 24-17, and have the home-field advantage this time. However, the fifth-ranked Papermakers enter with the No. 1 scoring offense and defense in the league " North is second in both.

Kimberly's J.P. Peerenboom leads the division in rushing, while North's Tanner Schuh and Kimberly's Ben Diedrick are the top two passers. So, it could be an offensive show, or both defenses could dominate as North has the league's reigning defensive player of the year in Logan Neitzke.

Logan Neitzke highlights

Sun Prairie at Middleton
If third-ranked Sun Prairie wins this Big Eight battle of Cardinals, then the league title should be theirs. If honorable mention pick Middleton rebounds from its first loss to pull the upset, then the league race will be a four-team donnybrook.

Sun Prairie has not allowed more than 7 points in any contest and shut out Madison Memorial last week, so Middleton must find ways to put points on the board to win this one.

Two Rivers at Kewaskum
This crucial encounter will break a three-way tie atop the Eastern Wisconsin Conference that includes fellow unbeaten and fifth-ranked (Division 3) Plymouth.

The sixth-rated Indians have the home field and must respond because they must travel to Plymouth on Oct. 5. Either way, they or the Purple Raiders will still have a say because Two Rivers hosts the Panthers on the final Friday of the season to see who wins all of the marbles.

Sussex Hamilton at Brookfield East
Supremacy in the Greater Metro could be decided this week. That is, if Division 2's No. 2 squad, Brookfield East, knocks off D-1's eighth-ranked team.

East is the lone unbeaten and controls its own destiny after Hamilton suffered its first setback, 24-21, at Menomonee Falls. Meanwhile, the Spartans rolled over Brookfield Central, 37-14, to knock the Lancers from the D-2 rankings.

Central must rebound to keep its playoff hopes alive, while Falls' upset boosted its chances of making the D-1 field

Hudson at Superior
The Raiders also control their own destiny during the final three weeks, but it'll be a tough task for the seventh-ranked squad in D-1 as their three foes have a combined 9-3 mark heading into this weekend's action in the Big Rivers.

Hudson must get by a tough Spartans' bunch that also hopes to qualify for the postseason. Should the Raiders get win No. 6, they then have once-beaten River Falls at home before traveling to D-2’s No. 4 team, Menomonie.

Reedsburg at Waunakee
The three-time defending Division 3 champion Warriors are rolling toward another Badger North championship, while Reedsburg, also unbeaten and sitting at No. 10, will see how they match up against the best against top-rated Waunakee.

Cedar Grove-Belgium at Ozaukee
This matchup of Division 5 honorable mention foes will go a long way in deciding who claims the Central Lakeshore crown.

CG-B has rebounded from a 0-2 start to win three straight, while Ozaukee is one win away from clinching a postseason berth.

Waukesha West at Catholic Memorial
Neither team will win the Classic Eight - D-1's top-ranked Arrowhead will do that - but West and Catholic Memorial are 3-2 and fighting for their playoff lives in Divisions 1 and 3, respectively.

West needs a win more, because the Wolverines host Arrowhead next week while Memorial has two much more winnable games remaining.

Owen-Withee at Gilman
These D-7 honorable mention teams share second place in the Cloverwood with Loyal, as all three enter play with 4-1 marks and are chasing unbeaten Athens, which is rated No. 6 in D-6.

Owen-Withee must keep pace because it entertains Athens in the regular-season finale. Gilman fell 28-6 to Athens in week three, but it ends its slate with road contests against Loyal and defending D-7 state champion Greenwood/Granton.

Green Bay Preble at De Pere
The Hornets share the Fox River Classic lead with D-1's No. 6 team, Bay Port, and Green Bay Southwest, which sits at sixth in D-2. Preble has clinched a D-1 postseason spot and faces a showdown at Southwest next week.

Meanwhile, the Redbirds are 4-1 and alone in second place with one more victory assuring them of a D-2 playoff trip. De Pere's remaining schedule features Notre Dame on the road and Manitowoc Lincoln at home.

Evansville at Jefferson
The Blue Devils actually sit atop the Rock Valley North with a 3-0 mark after Jefferson and East Troy endured their first losses in the past two weeks.

Evansville/Albany should clinch a postseason berth next week at home against Beloit Turner, regardless of whether it knocks off the Eagles or East Troy in the regular-season final, which also is on the road. However, E/A would like to get the upper hand in the chase for the league crown.

Jefferson hopes to stake its claim to the trophy with Brodhead/Juda and Whitewater remaining on its slate.

Pecatonica-Argyle at Highland
Pec-Argyle can clinch a playoff spot Saturday, potentially a piece of the Six Rivers title and a lot of bragging rights with an upset of the fifth-rated team in D-7. Highland currently shares the conference's top spot with No. 2 ranked Potosi.

Kenosha Tremper at Oak Creek
The unbeaten Knights moved into the D-1 rankings at No. 9 this week after thumping Bradford, 42-10, and set their sights on making it a Kenosha sweep in this Southeast Conference battle.

Tremper has a tough task, because second-place foes Franklin and Racine Horlick round out its schedule.

Rhinelander at Antigo
This contest probably won't do much to affect the Great Northern title chase, but it represents one of the truly great rivalries across the state.

Although records are only available since 1908, football games between the communities were held off an on from 1895 through 1921. That’s when the Hodags and Red Robins started hooking up regularly, and then in 1935 the series took on even added significance as the combatants began playing for the Gene Shepard's Bell Trophy.

Named for the man who "discovered" the hideous creature and the bell he donated from his steamboat called the U.S.S. Hodag, the foes have played for the traveling prize ever since, with the initial contest ending in a 19-13 Rhinelander victory in front of 3,000 spectators.

They renew that annual grudge match Friday night at Schofield Stadium in Antigo as the Red Robins try to increase their 48-27-2 advantage.

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