Despite a 37-13 loss to powerful Marquette on Sept. 30, the West Allis Central football team still maintains WIAA playoff hopes.
The Bulldogs fell to 2-3 in the Greater Metro Conference (3-4 overall) and must win their final two games of the season to earn a spot in this year's playoffs.
They will play at 7 p.m. Friday, Oct. 7, at Sussex Hamilton (2-3 in the GMC) in what amounts to an elimination game. Both teams must win to have a chance at the playoffs.
Hamilton is coming off a 49-33 loss to conference leader Brookfield Central last week in which Nick Mirasola ran for 112 yards and one touchdown and quarterback Jordan Smith passed for 81 yards.
Central then finishes the regular season at 7 p.m. Friday, Oct. 14, against Wauwatosa East (0-5 in the GMC) at Hart Park in Wauwatosa.
"We're actually in the playoffs right now," coach Keith Ringelberg said, referring to his team's must-win situation. "We are positive about that (Hamilton) game. We are approaching it with confidence, but we still want to be loose this week. We will be walking a real fine line in practice."
Central fell behind Marquette, 20-0, after one quarter and 37-0 at the half in last week's game.
"The kids didn't come out with the fight we thought they would," Ringelberg admitted. "We didn't have a great week of practice; some things happened. It was somewhat of a choppy preparation week. Against Marquette, even if we didn't come out victorious, we wanted to compete as hard as we could, and we didn't do that in the first half."
Central did play better in the second half and scored two fourth-period touchdowns, one on a 13-yard pass from Griffin Johnson to David Martinez and the other on a 5-yard run by Johnson.
"We did wake up and realize we can compete with anybody," Ringelberg said. "We scored twice, and we had a couple of longer drives. The bright spot was Glenn Martin, who ran for 103 yards. Our offensive line did a great job there."
Johnson completed eight of 15 passes for 81 yards, with Breshawn Renfro catching five passes for 65 yards.
For Marquette (4-1 in the GMC), quarterback Freddy Poorman completed 14 of 16 passes for 205 yards and four scores.
"Marquette has a precision passing game," Ringelberg said.