Ben Fischer of Crivitz blasts through a hole as Coleman’s Branden Pagel moves in to make a stop during their game last Friday. The two teams meet again Friday in the Division 6 playoffs. <br>EagleHerald/Billy Betts
Ben Fischer of Crivitz blasts through a hole as Coleman’s Branden Pagel moves in to make a stop during their game last Friday. The two teams meet again Friday in the Division 6 playoffs.
EagleHerald/Billy Betts
COLEMAN - Playoff football is in the air this week as Level One of the WIAA playoffs begin Friday. For Coleman and Crivitz, it sort of feels like déjá vu.

For the second straight season, the Cougars and Wolverines are matching up in the first round of the playoffs in Division 6 after closing out the regular season against each other.

"I'm hoping this isn't something we have every year now," Coleman coach Jeff Bronson said. "If you have to take one highlight from it, at least we'll know one team from the M&O Conference well advance."

After playing each other three times in two years, these two teams know a thing or two about the other.

Both thrive on the running game and rely on controlling the line of scrimmage.

The passing game is also similar as both starting quarterbacks are a bit green still with this being the first year each QB is starting under center.

"They have weapons and we have weapons. It's been a great matchup lately," Bronson said.

Last week, the Cougars defeated Crivitz 35-14 to earn homefield advantage, but the end result was a bit misleading to how the game was played, according to Bronson.

"You know, they really were right there with us most of the game," Bronson said. "We had two big stops on defense and a couple long running plays, but I don't see our game on Friday being easy at all. Crivitz is a very good football team."

The Cougars (7-2 overall, 6-1 in the M&O) were led by a rushing attack that finished with 322 yards. That effort was led in large part by Dexter Karban, who finished with 173 yards and two touchdowns on 21 carries.

"Dexter has been our bell-cow back all year and teams have focused on him for a reason," Bronson said. "I feel strongly about our running back crew, but it all comes down to getting great blocking and I thought we had that last week."

Crivitz (6-3 overall, 5-2 in the M&O) enters the game with its cut-and-dry leader Ben Fischer looking to keep his stellar career going.

Fischer finished second in the M&O in rushing with 990 yards and a conference-high 20 touchdowns. He rushed for 106 yards on 19 carries against Coleman and will be leaned upon to do even more this week.

Balance is something the Wolverines have had more of this year than in the past and it has proved vital to their success.

First-year starting QB Colton Lange has taken his lumps at times, but is building quite a rapport with sophomore phenom receiver Micah Sessler.

That connection was displayed last week against Coleman as the two hooked up for a 67-yard touchdown pass as Sessler beat the secondary with his sneaky quickness.

"Sessler is one heck of an athlete and surprisingly quick for how big he is," Bronson said. "Crivitz has that element where they can beat you in several different ways so you can't just focus on one aspect of the game."

Tackling low and limiting turnovers on top of controlling the football are three keys Bronson feels his team needs to follow in order to be successful.

"We had three turnovers last week and were lucky to get away with them, but that won't happen again this week," said Bronson. "If we can limit Fischer from the big gains and control the line of scrimmage, I feel we'll have a good chance to win."