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Playoff Primer

by Mark Daniels

The first season wasn't too shabby, can't wait for the second season.  The 2013 WIAA State Football Playoffs open this weekend and there are plenty of teams primed to make a deep run.  We'll break down the seedings and pairings by division.

Division 1

Two area teams are among the 32 largest enrollment schools in the D1 field, Green Bay Preble and Bay Port.  Even with a second place finish in the Fox River Classic Conference, the 8-1 Pirates garnered a number three seed in the Group A pool.  At least it earned head coach Gary Westerman a home game.  Bay Port will open with the Evergreens of D.C. Everest, a team they defeated in the first round of last year's playoffs on the road.  As for the Hornets, they'll be traveling to Thom Field in Wausau to take on Wausau West.  It's the third straight post-season trip for Preble under head coach Paul Donart.

Division 2

This is a minefield.  The only saving grace is that powerhouse and second ranked Kimberly was moved to a Milwaukee area group.  Still, the section includes the Ashwaubenon Jaguars, the unbeaten champs of the FRCC, Hortonville, the undefeated champs of the Bay Conference and perennial state tested Menomonie.   The Jags open at home against the Blue Jays of Merrill as the group's number one seed.   The Green Bay Southwest Trojans have gotten to the state semifinals and the third round in each of the past two playoffs, have a tough ticket against the Menasha Blue Jays.  That makes 4 FRCC-VFA matchups on opening night.  Both Southwest and Menasha finished with 7-2 records, about as good as a 4-5 seed matchup as you'll find. Can't forget the Polar Bears who dethroned West De Pere as Bay champs with a thrilling overtime win earlier this month.  Hortonville will meet Superior which will make the long bus ride Friday night.

Division 3

Here's another very attractive collection of 8 teams in Group A.  The top seed is Waupaca, champs of the Eastern Valley.  They'll host Antigo.  The Phantoms of West De Pere are seeded second and will take on Mosinee.  Even with a loss, head coach Bill Turnquist has a veteran squad with plenty of playoff and championship experience.  Seymour, which finished third in the Bay, has to travel to Medford.  A pair of former private school rivals from the old Fox Valley Christian Conference hook up on opening night as Green Bay Notre Dame takes on Appleton Xavier.  The Tritons played the tough teams tough in the Classic this year, falling to Ashwaubenon 17-14 and Bay Port 21-7.  Xavier features quarterback Matt Ferris who broke the single season touchdown pass record with 41.

Division 4

Keep an eye on Manitowoc Roncalli in this group, the capped an unbeaten season by beating a good Kewaunee team 35-0 last week.  The Jets are the top seed and will host Chilton.  Freedom is the two seed and will on Denmark.  Campbellsport from the EWC will play at Wrightstown of the Olympian, the number three seed.   The final pairing is Little Chute at Peshtigo.

Division 5

Two teams that have championship pedigree unfortunately meet on opening night as Kewaunee takes on Brillion.  Oconto has a tough draw, traveling to CLC champion Cedar Grove-Belgium.

Division 6

Fondulac Springs has been ranked number one all season and should survive the group of 8 teams which includes Manitowoc Lutheran, Oshkosh Lourdes and Reedsville.

Division 7

Florence is the only area team to make it, and they did it barely, as a number 8 seed, taking on top seeded Pepin/Alma.

Best of luck to all the area teams as they take the first step toward Camp Randall Stadium.