Two of the decade's most successful Class C football programs will tangle today when seventh-ranked Wibaux (7-1) travels to Centerville to take on the No. 1-ranked Miners (9-0) in a quarterfinal game.
"They have a great program and a great coaching staff," said Wibaux eighth-year coach Jeff Bertelsen of the Miners. "They have a really good group of kids and a young group of kids. They are ranked No. 1 for a reason."
Ted Richards, who has been at the helm of the Miners for 28 years, was also complimentary of the Longhorns.
"Play hard," said Richards with a chuckle when asked what his team will have to do to beat Wibaux. "What you have to do is you have to play hard. You have to step up a little bit more. Wibaux is tough and they try to knock you in the mouth.
"This year they have the best player (in Class C). Travis Bertelsen is the best player. We saw him in the championship game (in 2006). We know him and know how good he is. Our priority is to try and slow him down. You are never going to stop him, but you can slow him down."
Since 1991, Wibaux has won five state C football championships and played in two more championship games. Centerville won state championships in 1999 and in 2006, when they knocked off the Longhorns 48-42 in overtime. Centerville has also won five straight North Division titles.
Although the two teams met for the championship two years ago, few players remain from that game.
"There is only one player who played in there and that was Travis Bertelsen," said Richards. "We lost six seniors last year. It's not really a rematch there. They may be wanting revenge, but for us we can't remember it to tell you the truth."
"That was a really good game, we just came up short," said Jeff Bertelsen. "They were the better team that day. There is a little bit of that, but not a lot. Travis started at tailback and played a ton in that game and A.J. LaBelle played a little bit. For the most part, we are different teams and it is a different year and we are looking to do the best we can."
Last week in the first round of the playoffs, Centerville downed Belt 50-14. Sophomore running back Sam Rutherford ran for 100 yards on 19 carries in the win. Junior quarterback Jared Mayernik completed 5 of 10 passes for 122 yards and three touchdowns.
For the season, Mayernik has completed 83 of 141 passes for 1,666 yards with 26 touchdowns and seven interceptions. Rutherford has ran for 887 yards on 164 carries, with 19 touchdowns. Junior fullback Mike Doran averages 7.7 yards per carry.
Mayernik has several options when he throws the ball. Wide receiver Nick Luoma has 20 receptions for 356 yards and 10 touchdowns. Fellow receiver Dallas Koke has 14 catches for 313 yards and five touchdowns, while Christian Brokel has 12 catches for 315 yards and four touchdowns. Tight end Doug Mills has hauled in 19 balls for 308 yards.
"We run a pretty diverse offense. We will show you 20 different sets out there," said Richards. "We do motion and we do different decoy things. If we think we can run, we have enough in our package to run. If we can't run, we will pass on you.
"We have the best quarterback I've had in 28 years. He (Mayernik) is pretty good. He can make every throw. He is quick, he can run and he can see the field. He is my best defensive player, too. He made three interceptions on defense last week."
Last week in a 42-26 first-round win over Ekalaka, Travis Bertelsen accounted for more than 400 all-purpose yards, scored six touchdowns and made 20 tackles. The 5-foot-11, 185-pound senior ran the ball 17 times for 202 yards.
Coach Bertelsen said much of that success was due to offensive linemen Derek Hartse, LaBelle and Ivan Hansen and ends Miles Davis and James Anderson.
"Travis went into that game feeling he had something to prove when we lost to them (in 2006)," said Jeff Bertelsen. "Travis had a great game, but our offensive line blocked extremely well and our fullback (Collin Harrell) blocked really well. Those kids all blocked extremely well and gave Travis the opportunity to make those plays. Travis got the numbers, but it was a real good team effort."
For the season, Bertelsen has carried the ball 88 times for 782 yards and 19 touchdowns. Harrell has 65 carries for 426 yards and six touchdowns. Luke Krietinger has rushed 42 times for 256 yards.
Wibaux quarterback Jaylen Sokoloski is 37 of 85 for 541 yards with six touchdowns and two interceptions. Bertelsen has caught 17 passes for 260 yards and four touchdowns.
Defensively, Bertelsen has made 50 solo tackles and 25 assists. LaBelle has 48 solo tackles and 29 assists, along with seven sacks. Davis has 35 solos and 24 assists. Sokoloski has three interceptions.