By Michael Kommer
For Central Wisconsin Sports.net
Photo by Kylie Bridenhagen
October 11, 2018
Amherst– Coming into the season, the Amherst football team’s vision was pretty simple. As important as the non-conference games were, the real season was conference- and the the defense of their Central Wisconsin Conference- Large division crown.
But this year, things were a little different. Before the season began, the Falcons were not the favorites to win the league, but rather Iola-Scandinavia were the chosen ones.
This Friday the Thunderbirds make the trip to Amherst in an effort to snap the Falcon’s four-year streak atop the league standings.
“We just need to come in and be ourselves,” I-S coach Scott Erickson said. “We’re not going to do anything different. We’re playing our offense and defense, and we have to get off the field on third down.”
The last time I-S defeated Amherst was in 2010, and have been the runner-up in the conference two of the past three years. The last time the Thunderbirds won a conference was in 2007 when they won the CWC-10, but they believe they have the tools to end their drought.
The Thunderbirds have pounded their opponents all season outscoring them 270-48 in CWC-Large play, but have a season scoring differential of 343- 48, and have three shutouts to their credit and have allowed more than 15 points in a game.
I-S’s success is paced by senior running back Bryce Huettner who has amassed 1,727 rushing yards and 26 touchdowns to rank third in the state in yards and is tied for second in scores.
Needless to say, Huettner is going to be a big part of the game plan as the Thunderbirds look to impose their will on the Falcons.
“It all comes down to us playing good offense and defense and tackling,” Erickson said. “We can’t give up the occasional big play, we have to make good tackles, and we have to play to our full potential.”
The Falcons may not have the flashy numbers, but they appear to be a little more balanced in how they operate on offense. Senior running back Josh Rieck is second in the CWC-Large with 1,011 total yards and 11 scores, where junior quarterback Lincoln Cullen has nine scores through the air with 944 yards.
“We’ve gotten better each week on offense, but we’re still getting better on both sides of the ball,” Amherst coach Mark Lusic said. “We’re still a team that runs first, but we can throw it, but we just have to keep getting better.”
On the year, Amherst has outscored their opponents 251-94 with that number going to 217-57 in the CWC-Large. Their non-conference schedule appears to be a little more challenging on paper when they played Division 2 Merrill on the road and won 34-3, but fell at home to perennial power Saint Mary’s Springs 34-0.
“They (Iola-Scandinavia) are a tremendous team,” Lusic said. “They are a team that has been together for a long time, but we have to tackle well. We can’t allow a two-three yard run turn into a twenty, thirty, forty, or more yard run. If we can’t tackle, it’s going to be a long, long night.”
By The Numbers
|Points Per Game|
|Amherst||Lincoln Cullen, 944 Yards|
|I-S||Connor Kurki, 378 Yards|
|Amherst||Josh Rieck, 1011 Yards|
|I-S||Bryce Huettner, 1727 Yards|