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Next three weeks will decided success of St. Croix Central football team

With three weeks remaining in the regular season, there is a great deal of opportunity in front of the St. Croix Central football team.

The Panthers stand at 2-1 in the Dunn-St. Croix Conference. Their three remaining games are against conference opponents Spring Valley, Glenwood City and Elk Mound.

With one win, the Panthers would almost be assured of a place in the WIAA playoffs. But with wins in two or three of those games, the Panthers would get a much more favorable opening draw in the WIAA brackets. The Panthers would likely compete in Division 4 in the WIAA playoffs.

This stretch of game starts on Friday when the Panthers host Spring Valley in Central’s Homecoming game. Panther coach Tony DiSalvo said Spring Valley (2-2, 4-2) is a team similar in philosophy to the Panthers. Both teams prefer to march the ball down the field in controlled, time-consuming drives and both are squads that are on the young side. Spring Valley runs an offense similar to Mondovi, using a double-wing formation, according to DiSalvo.

Central had times in Friday’s 36\7-6 loss to Arcadia when there were six sophomores and five juniors playing defense. DiSalvo said the sophomores are getting to the point where inexperience should no longer a factor. He said some of the sophomores were put in a difficult situation at the start of the season by having to play both ways. In recent games Kyle Larson and Cody Gostovich are sophomores who got to concentrate on defense in recent games and it has resulted in a sharp upturn in their play.

There weren’t many highlights in Friday’s game against the undefeated team from Arcadia. Arcadia has an outstanding running game, led by Lee Pronschinske who rushed for more than 250 yards.

“We did some things okay,” DiSalvo said. “Our defense was atrocious. We didn’t tackle anybody.”

The Panthers’ passing game took a step forward in this game. Quarterback Jason Matteson completed 21 of his 32 passes for 232 yards, with no interceptions.

“Jason had his best night throwing,” DiSalvo said.

Tony Berg led the Panthers with eight receptions for 134 yards, including the Panthers’ only touchdown on a 77-strike from Matteson. Berg also averaged 31.6 yards on five kickoff returns.

“He really grew up,” DiSalvo said.

Dave Newman
Dave Newman has been the sports editor at the New Richmond News since 1988. He has covered the action in the Middle Border Conference, Dunn-St. Croix Conference and Big Rivers Conference for nearly 30 years.
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