WSFL rivals to collide again
T-Jacks, Rebels are always near the top
Thursday, October 24, 2013 7:00 PM
MENOMINEE - Over the course of the season, Joe Plautz has been preparing his M&M Timberjack squad for playoff football and a chance to take back the WSFL championship trophy.
This Saturday at 2 p.m. at Spies Field, the opportunity knocks for the T-Jacks as they play host to the Sheboygan County Rebels in the WSFL Semifinal game.
These two teams have built quite the rivalry over the years.
The T-Jacks have played in the WSFL Championship game each of the past four years and are winners of two of those contests.
Two years ago, the M&M squad defeated the Rebels 7-0 in the championship, but since then are losers of four straight against Sheboygan County. That includes last year's 9-7 loss in the championship contest.
"We've lost to them the last four times we've played them and that has to change," Plautz said. "It has come down to us making too many mistakes and them making too many plays."
The Rebels defeated the T-Jacks 20-6 in late September behind the strong play of quarterback Corey Roberson and the big-play capabilities of Courtney Gatlin.
Roberson has missed the past five games due to an injury, but longtime WSFL quarterback T.J. Arndt has filled his shoes nicely.
"T.J. has been in the league as long as I have and it's nice to have a backup QB like him," Plautz said. "Regardless of who lines up under center, we have to make them earn every play they get and not give any second chances."
Defense has controlled several of the most recent matchups between the two teams and Plautz feels this will be another defensive-minded game.
Willy Cornelius leads the T-Jacks in sacks and Eric Krautkramer is the team's leading tackler. Josh Payne inflicts more pain than the average secondary player and several of the other defensive players are playing at the best late in the year.
What should also give the T-Jack faithful confidence is the excellent play of running back Ryan La Count coupled with the likes of Randy Hoheneder, Nico Fulsom and several other key components that will be at full strength come Saturday.
"We're as healthy as we've been all year and it couldn't come at a better time," Plautz said. "There are a lot of talented players on both sides of the ball, which should prove to be a great game to be a part of."
In addition to Gatlin, the Rebels also feature three other top-end receivers which include leading pass-catcher Gerry Hammons and a stellar running back in Drae Strampke.
Plautz knows his team can't focus on just one area to shut down, but needs to limit the Rebels to hard-fought yards.
"If they make the plays and earn the yards, I have no problem with that, but we can't give the Rebels anything easy," Plautz said. "We have to play our best football of the season this week because if we don't, it will be a long off-season. I feel very confident in this group."