Eau Claire, Rice Lake (WQOW) — For the third straight year, Regis football has advanced to Level 3 of the high school football playoffs, and will once again take on Grantsburg Friday night at Carson Park.
The last time the Ramblers didn’t advance this far in the playoffs was back in 2015, when they lost to the Pirates in Level 2, 17-0. However, they got their revenge the following season, taking down Grantsburg in Level 3 on the road 21-20, and eventually winning a state championship.
This season, the Pirates have a high-powered offense averaging over 48 points/game, including scoring 50-plus in four straight. Their best player, is senior running back and linebacker Leo Chenal who has rushed for nearly 1,700 yards and 38 touchdowns this season. The Wisconsin Badgers commit will be a focal point for the Rambler defense.
“He’s a very complete player, very strong and very fast,” says Regis head coach Bryant Brenner. “Very instinctual on defense, just makes a lot of plays. He’s very impactful, and he’s going to be a force to be reckoned with. We’re going to have to find a way not to give up the big play, and then just tackle well in space.”
In division three, the defending state champions Rice Lake will host the Cinderella team so far, seven-seeded Sparta. The Spartans have downed both Ashland (36-8) and New Richmond (33-14) on the road, and one of the hottest teams in the state. Senior running back Bryce Edwards had a huge game on the ground against the Tigers, rushing for 291 yards and two touchdowns, while quarterback Cole Wisniewski added 91 yards and a rushing touchdown as well. The Warriors know their defense will have to set the tone to come away with a victory.
“Defense wise we have to clean it up a little bit,” senior lineman/linebacker Tony Lai says. “Last night’s practice didn’t go so well, so hopefully we can clean it up today and make sure we shot it on Friday.”
Rice Lake has impressive wins over Hayward (41-8) and Onalaska (40-25), but know the Spartans present their own challenges.
“Everything I’ve seen on them is very good,” says head coach Dan Hill. “I don’t understand how they lost the games that they did early in the year, but they beat some quality teams and are solid all around on offense and defense. They have talented tough kids, and are going to be a very good team to play.”
The Warriors and Spartans will kick-off at 7 P.M. Friday night at Rice Lake.