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Wildcats host Mead in playoff opener

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HARTINGTON — A potential District 3 title tilt ended up in a 46-36 disappointment in the Wildcats defeat at Bloomfield, but they were still rewarded with a home playoff opener on Thursday.

It will be the first-ever meeting between Mead and Hartington-Newcastle.

“As I’ve begun to watch film on Mead, it’s definitely an opponent that we don’t have a lot of familiarity with,” Wildcats head coach Cory Uldrich said. “We’re working hard to get information on them from teams that have played against them, and we seem to hear the same message from all of them.”

Mead is led by freshman quarterback Luke Carritt who can sling the ball around pretty effectively.  

His favorite target, and Mead’s best player, is JT Haag, a 6-foot-1, 160-pound senior.  Haag leads the team in receptions, and he has scored touchdowns through the return game, as well.

 Mead also has a big, physical nose guard in 6-foot-4, 245-pound Bayley Lacroix.  

“I believe that we may have a little bit more athleticism in our skill players, but it’s very hard to tell by just watching film,” Uldrich said. “Some of the beauty of playing somebody you’ve never seen is just lining up and finding out where you stack up with your opponent.”

The loss against Bloomfield pushed Hartington-Newcastle into a third-place finish in a first-rate district and the competitive defeat could propel them toward a strong playoff run.

“I thought our kids battled really well against a very quality opponent, and we led 36-34 with eight minutes left in the game.  Unfortunately, they got a score and a stop, which then led to the final score with eight seconds left, and our kids fell just short.

“I’m confident our players will have a good week of preparation, and I look forward to getting to play in a playoff game on Thursday night.”

Other side of the bracket: No. 11 Riverside (5-3) at No. 6 Clarkson/Leigh (6-2)