After COVID-19 thwarted their annual meeting in 2020, the Sparta Spartans and Tomah Timberwolves are all set to renew their rivalry this Friday.
Spartans eyeing third straight win
In Week 3, the Sparta high school football team completed a 56-42 shootout with conference rival La Crosse Logan.
With that win, the Spartans secured a second win in a row. Sparta looks to grab that third win in a row come Friday. They travel to Tomah to take on the Timberwolves under the lights.
These two teams have only met just twice in fourth year head coach Adam Dow’s tenure for the Spartans. The teams have split the series 1-1. Tomah got the best of the Spartans back in 2018 with a 22-17 home win and the Spartans returned the favor in 2019 with a 28-14 win at home.
The two teams were supposed to meet in the revised season opener in 2020, but did not because of the global pandemic so this 2021 season matchup has all of the excitement built up.
For the Spartans, the presence of Nick Kent in the backfield has their opponents’ knees shaking every play. Although Kent didn’t see the breakout game against Logan, just him lining up in the backfield helped the Spartans - even without his explosive play.
Logan stacked the box, ultimately shutting Kent down only allowing him to rush for 38 rushing yards on just 14 rushing attempts. The Rangers also pressed on the outside receivers, ultimately slowing Kent down, but got beat in the passing game with quarterback Thomas Laufenberg ‘s career game with 300 yards passing and four passing TDs. Tomah will have to find a way to slow down Kent all while not allowing the young quarterback to have another career game.
The Spartan defense is also in question. The Logan Rangers athletes beat the Spartan defense a few times in the game. Head coach Adam Dow wants his defense to have a short memory after big plays unfold against them. It is part of the game and it is how you respond that can be the difference in a close game. With the senior leadership of Hayden Brueggemen and Ty Lietzau, the Sparta defense is hoping to get back on track.
Sparta at Tomah under the lights. Teams haven’t met since 2019. The Spartans are hungry to secure that third win a row and their first three-game winning streak since 2019.
By Nick Leonardelli
Tomah's strength: Spreading the wealth
This Friday, the 0-3 Timberwolves will take on the 2-1 Spartans in a big rivalry game. This game will be an important game for the Timberwolves as they try to get their first win of the season.
An important key to this matchup for Tomah will be their offensive line. Second-year head coach Joe Protz discussed the importance of his team addressing missed blocks that have caused errors in crucial spots. In a game of inches, every mistake is magnified and Coach Protz has been working to help the line fire off the ball faster. Protz emphasizes that this is a strong group and says that they just have to become more consistent.
The offensive line has shown that they have the ability to open up the game for the Timberwolves. In their first game against Mauston, they were able to see the offensive line open up holes for Jacob Bullard to run through, as he ran for 117 yards on 7 carries.
They were able to get the whole offense going with quarterback Tom Hesse going for 180 yards and 3 touchdowns. The good blocking also gave Drew Brookman, Tomah’s number one target, a chance to break loose for 164 yards and 3 touchdowns.
In the last two weeks, the offensive line has struggled but has put together some opportunities for the Timberwolves to score. Even though the offensive line has struggled, Tomah has been able to get more players involved when some of the key players are struggling. Protz sees the depth of the team as a plus in this game.
Coach Protz discussed stopping Sparta’s run and pass combination. He also talked about making sure his defense is in the right position to defend both the pass and the run.
Group tackling was the main part of his focus when it came to his defense this week. He talked about the players trusting the game plan and being in the right position in order to make the play.
This game looks to be an entertaining matchup as both teams have shown glimpses of greatness in the first three games. Tomah is looking to put it all together against their rivals and gain their first win on the season while Sparta looks to keep their win streak alive.
By Maurice Savage