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High school football: Johnny Davis vs. Cole Wisniewski with plenty on the line

High school football: Johnny Davis vs. Cole Wisniewski with plenty on the line

From the High school football: Week 7 in the La Crosse area series
Aug. 22: Eau Claire North vs. La Crosse Central (copy)

Central High School quarterback Johnny Davis runs the ball against Eau Claire North this season. Davis has passed for 1,054 yards and rushed for 993 this season as the Red Raiders prepare to play Sparta on Friday.

No one truly knows what will happen when Central High School quarterback Johnny Davis drops back in the pocket after taking a snap.

No one truly knows what will happen when Sparta’s Cole Wisniewski takes snap, either.

That’s why Memorial Park in Sparta is the place to be on Friday night.

Two Division I recruits — Davis to the University of Wisconsin men’s basketball team and Wisniewski to the North Dakota State football team — will be out to do everything they can to keep their teams in contention for the MVC championship.

The Red Raiders (4-2, 2-1) and Spartans (5-1, 3-1) both have to win this game to keep up with first-place Onalaska (5-1, 3-0) and Holmen (5-1, 3-0), and the firepower of Davis and Wisniewski will be on full display.

“It’s a huge boost (for the winner),” Central coach Tony Servais said. “Both of us are still in the conference mix.

“For us, we still have to play Onalaska. Sparta still has to play Holmen. If you win this game, you still have a shot to share the conference title.”

Both coaches are content to play such a game with their respective quarterbacks and for good reason.

Davis and Wisniewski are capable of big things.

Davis has passed for 1,054 yards and 11 touchdowns while rushing for 993 yards and 14 touchdowns. Wisniewski is responsible for 17 touchdowns — nine passing, eight rushing — and has rushed for 674 yards and passed for 605.

Both made dynamic plays last week with Davis rushing for more than 200 yards and scoring four touchdowns and Wisniewski grabbing plenty of attention by intercepting a pass with one hand and returning it for a long touchdown.

“Those are the kinds of plays that make him the player he is,” Sparta coach Adam Dow said of Wisniewski. “The (NDSU) coach who recruited him was there, too, and after the play, I just looked at him and smiled. That’s the kind of player they are getting.”

Servais marveled at the performance Davis had in a 33-6 win over Logan at UW-La Crosse. He said after the game that is happy to not have to worry about stopping the 6-foot-5 offensive machine.

But he does have to worry about Wisniewski, and that will be a challenge.

“I think Wisniewski is unbelievable and a very talented kid,” Servais said. “I love the way he handles himself, and I think both teams are very fortunate to have quarterbacks that can do multiple things so well.

“These two are so dynamic in everything they do.”

While Davis clearly has the stronger arm, Wisniewski has shown himself to be an improved passer as a senior. Both can also run very well with Wisniewski probably getting the edge at running between the tackles.

Whether the fact that each defense has spent the season playing with an elite quarterback in practice is an advantage in this game remains to be seen.

The mantra for anyone playing defense has to center around not surrendering big plays, and that expands for Central when it comes to Sparta’s special teams.

“That has to be a concern with what they’ve done,” Servais said of the Spartans. “They have really done a lot with their special teams.”

Sparta has returned three kickoffs — Corbin Hauser has two and Abe Edie one — and one punt to the end zone. Wisniewski has the punt return, and Edie’s kickoff return kept Sparta in a game in eventually lost 21-14 to Onalaska two weeks ago.

Wisniewski’s interception return for a touchdown is also just one of four that Sparta has. Teammate Brett Stuessel has two.


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