PREP FOOTBALL PREVIEW
More than just Wausau Log on line Friday
USA TODAY NETWORK-WISCONSIN
WAUSAU - After this weekend, either the Wausau East or Wausau West football teams will have both city bragging rights and possession of a trophy that prominently features a slab from a large tree.
The Wausau Log will be the focal point of Friday’s contest between the Warriors and the Lumberjacks at Thom Field, but it’s not the only compelling aspect of the game. It’s West’s homecoming and a chance for the Warriors to become eligible for the WIAA playoffs with a win.
West coach Jason Foster said his team’s focus has been solid for the most part despite the hype which surrounds both a homecoming and rivalry week.
"There’s a lot going on (during homecoming week) and these are high school kids. You walk the thin line between wanting them to engage in all the activities that are going on so it’s a positive and fun experience for them, but understanding that ultimately it’s about winning a football game," Foster said during Wednesday’s practice.
The Warriors hold a 29-15-1 advantage against East in the Log Game, which started in 1970. West has maintained the Log trophy since 2013 and Friday’s game is set for a 7pm start at Thom Field.
West is 3-3 overall and 3-2 in the Valley Football Association-North Division. A win over the Lumberjacks would clinch at least a .500 record in the conference, a requirement to be eligible for the postseason. It’s a scenario that
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Members of the Wausau West football team hoist the Wausau Log trophy after defeating Wausau East in 2013.
USA TODAY NETWORK-WISCONSIN FILE PHOTO
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seemed at least in question four weeks ago after the Warriors opened the season with back-to-back losses to Stevens Point Area Senior High and Wisconsin Rapids.
The Warriors aren’t thinking about the playoffs yet. They are focusing on winning the Log Game for a fourth straight year and claiming the coveted city championship. West downed D.C. Everest 1712 in Week 3, the first of a three-game winning streak for the Warriors, which ended last week in Kimberly.
"Maybe earlier in the week we placed too heavy of an emphasis on what lies ahead over the next few weeks ... and we weren’t great in practice once or twice," Foster said. "But then we really dialed things back and brought it back to our model of taking care of business each week and farther than that, making sure day-to-day we take care of business."
West beat East 20-7 last year as the Warriors’ Mitch Michalske rushed for more than 200 yards and a touchdown in a match-up that was a one possession game until late in the third quarter.
West has won five of the last seven matchups after East won seven of eight Log Games to open the 2000s.
"Records don’t really matter when it comes to this game," said West senior offensive lineman Paul Weise, who is playing in his third Log Game. "East always plays their best against us. They’ll give us their best look. We know that they’ll probably throw something new at us and we are preparing for that."East enters the game with a 0-6 record and a win Friday would mean a lot in a challenging season for the Lumberjacks.
"It’s no secret that we haven’t had a lot of success this year but if we are successful on Friday that could change our whole season and for a lot of our varsity players, their whole career," East senior tight end/defensive end Reggie Brown said. "It’s not going to be an easy task but we feel that it’s doable.
"It would mean a lot to everybody on the East Side community," Brown said. "The Log hasn’t been here in a long time, not in the years that I have been on varsity. It would be a pretty special thing for us."
Tim Johnson: 715-8450731, or timothy.johnson @gannettwisconsin.com; on Twitter@timmyjo11