Elmwood/Plum City was 1-0 last fall before it's contest with Spring Valley in Elmwood.
But even after winning the opener over Frederic there was a sense of dread by EPC going into annual Eau Galle River rivarly game and for good reason. The Cardinals walloped the Wolves 40-0.
As gametime approaches in 2014, no such dread is found among EPC players and coaches. Instead there's a cautious optimism and perhaps a hope that if nothing else this year's game at Syverson Park starting at 7 p.m. will be a lot more competitive and lot more physical.
"We've improved, but will it be enough to handle Spring Valley? That remains to be seen." EPC head coach Jerry Hannack said. "They're still tough and we're going to have to play exceptional football to win."
EPC was encourage by the balance it showed on offense and defense and the fact multiple players made significant contributions to the team's 15-7 win over Frederic. Key to victory was a nine minute drive on offense in the fourth quarter which preserved the Wolves' lead.
"Frederic played physical and tough too but we wore them down," Hannack said, "and that's something we had a hard time doing to anyone a year ago. We're every encouraged by the progress we've made."
Spring Valley was pretty balanced too in its approach, churning up the yards on the ground with at least nine backs getting carries in its 40-23 win over Unity. The win gave SV a No. 10 ranking in Division 6 in the state's first coaches' poll.
Prescott will be looking for win No. 2 and a chance to extend its and St. Croix Falls's shuout streak Friday in St. Croix Falls. PHS blanked Barron at home last week 47-0 while SCF was beaten 36-0 by Osceola.
Ellsworth will also try for a 2-0 mark as they take on a Colfax team looking for the same thing. The Panthers broke out in the second half of their season-opening win over Spooner 35-13 thanks to a TD pass and run by quarterback Emery Whalen and big play 44-yard TD run by Jordan Close.
"Football is a game of progression in my view and Emery and whole team progressed very well and very rapidly in that ballgame," EHS head coach Clair Austin said. "I thought our line on offense played very well in the second half which allowed us to have more success. Players like Max Kuehn, Will Plate, Carson Johnson and Joe Tingelhoff played well."
Also playing well was the Purple's defense, which only gave up an extended drive to the Rails late in the fourth quarter. Spooner's other TD came on a turnover deep in EHS territory before halftime.
A good defense will be needed by the Panthers to stop Colfax quarterback Jarrod Rudi threw a TD pass and scored on a 46-yard run against Eleva-Strum last week in 42-6 Game 1 rout. Two Viking running backs, Aliymu Davis and Jeremiah Wait, both rushed for over 100 yards with Davis scoring once and Wait twice. Rudi also does the kicking for Colfax making 6-of-6 extra points.