Posen football coach Wayne Karsten didn't mince words when he found out his team's first-round playoff draw on Sunday night.
"It's a mixed bag. You've made it, but we drew probably the No. 1 team in the state," Karsten said after learning the Vikings would play Rapid River.
Posen (4-5) will play at Rapid River (9-0) at 7 p.m. tonight in an 8-man football predistrict game and the Vikings figure to have their hands full against a team that's already beaten them once this season.
News File Photo
Posen’s Nick Hincka (80) is tackled by a swarm of Superior Central players during a game at Posen High School ealier this season. Posen plays at Rapid River tonight in an 8-man predistrict game.
"We know we're tough, but they're fast and they have of the best players in 8-man," Karsten said. "We'll have to assign one or two people to him."
Karsten is referring to Rockets' senior quarterback Jake Pearson, who has racked up more than 3,000 all-purpose yards this season and has been nearly impossible for opposing defenses to stop. In the regular-season finale last week at Bellaire, Pearson rushed for 290 yards on 37 carries and four touchdowns and added 215 yards through the air on 13-of-18 passing.
Pearson is a big reason why Rapid River has been untouchable in nearly all of its games, but Rockets' coach Steve Ostrenga credits his team's offensive line with helping Pearson put up such eye-popping numbers. The Rockets' line includes two seniors and both tight ends are juniors.
Posen (4-5) at Rapid River (9-0)
7 p.m., Rapid River HS
Notes: Rapid River won the last meeting between the two schools 64-26 on Sept. 6The two teams last met in the playoffs in a predistrict game in 2001 with the Rockets winning 18-6This is Posen's 8th playoff appearance and second in 8-man footballRapid River has made nine playoff appearances and three in 8-man footballPosen is 4-8 in the playoffs all-time, Rapid River is 7-8
"You don't get many of these guys, but we have a veteran line and we're blessed to have those type of guys opening holes for him," Ostrenga said.
Rapid River beat Posen 64-26 in Week 2 of the regular season, but Ostrenga said the final score was a little misleading. He pointed out that the game was tied at 14 in the second quarter and expects another tough game from the Vikings this time around.
"I'm expecting a tough ballgame. These guys are seniors and they hit,"Ostrenga said. "(Nick) Hincka is a great player."
Hincka has been the Vikings' workhorse this season, racking up 1,645 rushing yards on 199 carries with 18 touchdowns. He's also been a dominant two-way player and leads his team with 115 tackles.
With quarterback Brandon Dietz still out of the lineup , Posen will lean heavily on its junior ball carrier, who has continued to put up big numbers despite playing through injuries for several weeks.
"We're going to try and get him in spots where he'll be successful," Karsten said. "He'll do whatever it takes to win and we're going to be riding him. He doesn't want the credit; he just wants to help us win."
Posen looked impressive in the first five weeks of the season, posting a win over Bellaire and nearly knocked off Cedarville in its season opener. Things came to a halt in Week 6 when the Vikings conceded a game to Engadine due to injuries.
Karsten knows his team will enter Friday's game at less than full strength, but that won't stop the Vikings from putting up a fight.
"Life is going to throw you curves and you have to face adversity," Karsten said. "These kids have had the deck stacked up against them and they've stepped up and given their all."
James Andersen can be reached via email at firstname.lastname@example.org or by phone at 358-5694. Follow James on Twitter @ja_alpenanews.