Eau Claire (WQOW) — Two teams remain in the hunt for a division six state championship. As undefeated Eau Claire Regis will take on the two-time defending state champs, Saint Mary’s Springs Thursday afternoon.
On offense, the Ramblers are all about their balance and depth in the backfield. Senior Tristan Root has been leading the charge though with 984 yards and 20 touchdowns, but Hayden Reinders (835 yards, 11 touchdowns) and Gus Theisen (562 yards, 16 touchdowns) have been dangerous as well. They can also hit you with play-action though, as Bennett Seelen (568 yards, 8 touchdowns) has made plenty of big plays through the air.
“It’s really nice having a bunch of good running backs, because you’re always fresh when you go back into the game,” says Root. “Each running back has their fair share of carries. And it’s really good to have great blockers for us, and they’ve been working hard the whole year. There is one guy running, and there’s ten guys blocking for our offense. So it really is just going to be about breaking that rock.”
On the other side, the Ledgers have been led this season by David Mueller in the backfield. The junior running back has 1,410 rushing yards and 17 touchdowns, but also lookout for Isaac Hyland (869 yards, 12 touchdowns) and Marcus Orlandoni (707 yards, 10 touchdowns) as well. Their offense is ran by junior quarterback Braydon King. He’s thrown for 726 yards and seven touchdowns, while rushing for 378 yards and nine scores.
“Offensively they can run the ball, they can throw it, they’ve got a huge offensive line. Their offensive line looks like a college offensive line, that’s how good they are,” says Ramblers head coach Bryant Brenner. “I think they’ve got a couple division one prospects, 6’5″, 265 a couple guys that size. They’re really just a complete team, and they don’t have any weaknesses.”
On defense, Regis has only given up 97 total points though this season. They’ve also held their opponents to 139 total yards/game, while forcing 25 turnovers in 2019. Junior inside linebacker Payton Kostka anchors the unit, leading the team with 112 total tackles, while Alex Leis (102 total tackles) and Gabe Chenal (90 tackles, 3.5 sacks) have been disruptive as well. Then in the secondary, both Luke Rooney and Aaron Haselwander have five interceptions this season.
“We have a pretty solid defense. Everybody works together, and does their part,” Kostka says. “Nobody is selfish, and that’s the biggest thing is we all make the tackle. It’s going to be a test especially for our defense, but it’s what we asked for.”
Saint Mary’s Springs defense has been just as good though this season, especially in the playoffs. The Ledgers have three straight shut-outs, and have only surrendered 91 points total in 2019. Luke Vander Kooy leads the team this season with 77 tackles, while Jacob Hoch has pitched in with 67 tackles and two fumbler recoveries.This young team started the season with two straight losses, but are playing with a lot of confidence right now.
“Their defense is lights out. They haven’t given up any true points throughout the whole playoffs. Their two losses came in the first two weeks of the season, and both were very deceiving,” Brenner says. “They were a young team back then playing some inexperienced kids, but I think they’ve got their feet underneath them and really rolled since then. They’re playing with a lot of confidence now.”
Kick-off is set for 1 p.m. Thursday in Madison at Camp Randall Stadium.