Level 2 of the WIAA Division 4 playoffs will present Baldwin-Woodville's football team with one of its biggest challenges of the year.
The Blackhawks moved up to No. 6 in the state Division 4 rankings Oct. 15, marking their first appearance in the state rankings all season. This Saturday at 2 p.m., they take on 7th-ranked Wrightstown, which spent the first four weeks ranked No. 2 in the state and then occupied the No. 6 spot the rest of the season until being pushed down by the Blackhawks.
Both teams enter the game with an 8-2 overall record - B-W with a Middle Border Conference title, and Wrightstown with a second-place finish in the tough North Eastern Conference behind second-ranked Freedom (10-0). Wrightstown's only other loss came to Division 2's second ranked West De Pere (10-0) team.
B-W's losses came to Division 7's third-ranked Edgar (9-1) team and St. Croix Central (8-2).
"Wrightstown is a big, physical, run-oriented team," said B-W coach Dan Keefer. "They are very well coached. We are optimistic we will have Jake Lindquist back on the field, and that makes us a better team."
The Tigers feature a pair of powerful running backs in Jeremy Van Zeeland and Ben Jaeger. Both have more than 800 yards this season, at least 11 touchdowns each and average about 7 yards per carry. Things don't fall off much as they go down the bench either, with Quincy Klister picking up seven rushing touchdowns and averaging 6 yards per carry. Luke Renard averages more than 7 yards per touch and has two touchdowns.
Van Zeeland and Klister are also the team's leading tacklers.
The winner of Saturday's game will take on the winner of Freedom versus St. Croix Central.
Note: Co-Middle Border Conference Champion New Richmond travels to Menomonie to compete in a Division 3, Level 2 game. West DePere is competing in a Division 3, Level 2 game versus Grafton Friday. Edgar is hosting Hurley in a Division 7, Level 2 game Friday.