By BURT ANGELI
KINGSFORD - The unbeaten Kingsford Flivvers, just a week away from the Great Northern Conference football opener, face another undefeated team Friday in La Crosse Central.
Dean Hall/Northwoods River News Photo
Kingsford quarterback Caleb Harrington prepares to hand off during the first quarter of Friday's game against Rhinelander at Mike Webster Stadium.
"Perfect timing," said Flivver coach Chris Hofer, seeking a stiff test before hosting Menominee next week.
While the Flivvers three previous Wisconsin opponents now sport an overall mark of 1-8, the Red Raiders arrive with a 3-0 ledger against top foes.
Central clipped Mississippi Valley Conference favorite Holmen 17-14 last week. The Red Raiders, scoreless against Holmen since 2009, suffered a 42-0 pasting last year.
"I'm just proud of the way our guys responded," Central Coach Tony Servais told the La Crosse Tribune. "They don't hang their heads. They just keep competing."
Central tipped 2011 Big Rivers Conference co-champ Eau Claire Memorial 9-7 in the season opener and followed that game with a 34-24 decision over defending Mississippi Valley Conference king Tomah.
"We didn't play up to our standards, but some of that is Central," Holmen Coach Steve King said. "They played good defense against us. That's a heck of a football team."
That Central defense likes to "blitz all over the place," Hofer said.
"It looks like someone is always coming and you don't know where," Hofer said. "They're everywhere."
Central runs the option, and like most offenses with that form of attack they are prone to fumble. But the Red Raiders are efficient and fast.
"They're good and they have some speed," Hofer said. "Any time you're playing option football and you have speed to the perimeter, you can be dangerous."
The opportunistic Flivvers staved off Rhinelander, 34-12, last week. Kingsford, outgained in total yards 358 to 225, scored four of five times when beginning drives within the Hodags 40.
"We made some big special teams plays," said Hofer, noting a blocked punt and field goal along with two kick-off returns over 30 yards. "We were a little undisciplined on defense and gave up some plays. It was a matter of not being in the right spot.
"Offensively, it took us a while to get going. Rhinelander did a lot of things really well and we had to work."
Flivvers' Reed Larson rushed for 133 yards on 19 carries, and scored twice. The senior running back boosted his season ground total to 361 yards.
Senior linebacker Sean Ryan, named Flivver of the Week by the coaching staff, registered a team-high 11 tackles and 19 defensive points against the Hodags. Lineman Hilding Beaudoin tacked on 10 and 18. Kingsford's defensive point leaders also contained CJ Qualley, 14; Connor Berndt, 12; Gabe Swanson, 11, and Caleb Harrington, 11.
Center Mike McCole earned blocker of the week while Jake Allen was named the premier special teams player.
Kingsford and La Crosse Central kick off at 6 p.m. Friday from Flivver Field.