HARTINGTON - Wildcats football may have clinched a playoff berth last week with a win over Wausa, but in order to start the playoffs with a home game, HNS will need to put up a strong effort against undefeated Bloomfield.
“If we want to host a first-round playoff game, we will need to win Thursday night,” said HNS coach Corey Uldrich. “A loss will put us on the road somewhere, so we’d like to give ourselves that opportunity to host.”
The Bees are 7-0 and sit atop arguably the toughest District in Class D2. With a strong line and dynamic quarterback, Bloomfield has been able to outscore opponents 332-90 this season.
Bloomfield quarterback Braden Eisenhauer averages 82 passing yards per game, but the team relies on it’s running game that averages over 300 yards per game through the season.
“Eisenhauer is a good, shifty quarterback who is very effective on QB boots and rollouts,” said Uldrich. “He has a good arm and is very shifty, so tackling him will require us to break down and be under control.”
Hartington-Newcastle features a more balanced offense, using speed to the team’s advantage both on the ground and through the air.
“We’re going to have to be really good in our scheme, and then it’s going to come down to playing a lot bigger than we are,” said Uldrich. “We are going to need to get off of blocks and play through contact. Bloomfield is very good at every position, so we’re going to have to be at our best to compete with them.”
HNS has one thing the rest of the team’s in the District didn’t have for their match-ups, a full season’s worth of game film. With the Wildcats hosting the Bees in the final regular-season game Uldrich, his coaches and his players will have plenty to study in preparation of Thursday.
“I think having all of their game films works for us and against us,” said Uldrich. “they will also have everything we’ve done this year, and we’ll have the same on them. We’ll try to have our kids prepared for anything that can be thrown at us, but we also know that the key to beating them is going to be shutting down their straight-ahead run game.”
The Bees started the season with a trio of dangerous runners, but an injury to the team’s leading rusher against Randolph has made the team adjust a little. Will Fehringer went down in the second half of the game against the Cardinals, and now Eisenhauer and fullback Brantson Gieselman have taken on bigger roles.
Gieselman responded to the increased role with a career night against Wynot last week, carrying the ball 30 times for 264 yards and three scores.
Both teams have one less day to prepare, with the game taking place in Hartington on Thursday night. Uldrich says the team will practice the same as all season, but everything will be moved up a day.
“Monday night’s practice will be similar to what we’d normally try to accomplish on a Tuesday, and so on and so forth, “said Uldrich. “The aspect of this game that we will have to prepare our team for is the physical nature with which Bloomfield plays. Every play is going to be extremely physical, so we have to be prepared to play on every snap.”
Hartington-Newcastle looks to end Bloomfield’s regular season with the Bee’s first loss, while the visiting squad will be fighting for top seeding in the Class D2 playoff bracket. The Wildcats and Bees face off on Thursday night in Hartington at 7 p.m.