A win sends St. Croix Central football team to WIAA playoffs
If the St. Croix Central football team wins against Elk Mound this Friday, the Panthers make the WIAA state playoffs. If the Panthers lose to the winless Mounders, they’ll be spectators for this year’s playoffs.
The Panthers have made the playoffs each of the past five years.
Last Friday the Panthers were on the losing end of a 42-0 defeat to Glenwood City. While the score was one-sided, the Central coaches were able to find positives out of the loss to the defending Division 7 state champions.
The Panther offense did move the ball at times. The Panthers had 151 yards through the air, including eight catches for 91 yards by senior Dante Carlson. The running game was effective early, but as the Panthers fell behind, the deficit made it more difficult for the Panthers to rely on the run.
Most of Glenwood City’s points came off big plays. There were times during the game that the Panthers were playing only one senior on defense. There were times the inexperience showed, but other times where their promise showed too.
“Our backers came up and tackled,” said Central head coach Tony DiSalvo. “I was fairly impressed with that.”
This week the Panthers face an Elk Mound squad that is even younger than Central’s group. The coaches believe that the Panthers can come up with a big performance, because most of the problems against Glenwood City were correctable.
“Effort wasn’t the bad thing, execution was,” DiSalvo said. “Glenwood City is a good team. They’ll win a lot of (playoff) games at their level.”
DiSalvo said the Panthers could play spoiler if they reach the playoffs, like they did last year when they upset Northland Pines and Barron. He said the extra week of practice would also be a benefit for the team, helping them get more experience for next season.