St. Croix Central football is headed back to state championship game
The St. Croix Central football team has the chance to earn consecutive WIAA state championships.
The Panthers are headed back to the WIAA Division 4 state championship game after defeating Freedom 42-21 in frigid conditions at Jay Stadium in Merrill on Friday night.
Central will face Lodi in the state championship game. Lodi won Friday against Martin Luther. The Division 4 state championship game will be played at 7 p.m. on Thursday at Camp Randall Stadium in Madison.
Central withstood Freedom's best shot early in the game, with Freedom leading 14-6 after the first quarter. Central then took over the game, scoring 36 straight points before Freedom scored in the final minutes of the game.
Central's diverse running attack again overwhelmed its opponent. With fullback Ryan Larson battering the middle, quarterback Collin Nelson and halfbacks Alex Fischer and Austin Kopacz were able to pick yardage in chunks outside the tackles.
Freedom found out early it couldn't run inside against Central's powerful defensive triad of Chris Matteson and Hunter Schmidt at tackle and Larson at middle linebacker. Freedom had some early success running and passing to the outside, but the Panther defensive quickly shut that down and Freedom had little offensive success the rest of the night.