To finish off the 2016 football season, the Crofton Warriors are hoping to do something none of their predecessors have been able to do.
Win a state championship.
In fact, Crofton has only even competed in the state championship game once in school history, a 22-14 loss to Cambridge in 2003. Considering some of the players on Crofton's roster weren't even born at that time, that makes this trip to Lincoln uncharted territory.
The Warriors have been led all season by their fantastic running game. The main man in the backfield is senior Tanner Crosley, who this year rushed for more than 1,500 yards and 23 touchdowns this season. He is far from the only option, however, as junior Ethan Poppe and senior Noah McFarland have combined for an additional 1,163 yards and seven scores.
It's not often that they do, but when the need arises, Crofton can sling it as well. Quarterback Jaden Janssen has passed for more than 800 yards and six scores this season, most of that to senior receiver Grant Wragge.
While they have had their highs and lows offensively, Crofton has scored nearly 30 points per game while giving up just 14 thanks to an ever-improving defense.
Despite making the trip to Memorial Stadium for just the second time ever, the Warriors still manage to be the experienced team as their opponent, Wilber-Clatonia, qualified for the game for the first time ever.
The Wolverines finished 2016 undefeated thanks to the strength of their defense. Wilber-Clatonia has given up just 55 points in 12 games so far this year and has recorded seven shutouts. That defense is led by senior Dustin Jelinek. Jelinek has wracked up 59 total tackles on the year along with 5.5 tackles for loss. When the Warriors do drop back to pass, they must be wary of the Wolverine pass defense, led by Riley Homolka and Brice Broz. Homolka led the Wolverines with 8.5 sacks on the year while Broz had an incredible 12 interceptions in 2016.
Offensively, Wilber-Clatonia also boasts a strong rushing attack with the combination of Tanner Sand and Coltin Rezabek totaling nearly 1,600 yards. The quarterback, Sand is also able to put the ball into his playmakers hands with ease, completing 67 percent of his passes for 790 yards and 11 touchdowns. His primary target for the season has been Broz, who has totaled 488 yards and eight touchdowns.
Crofton and Wilber-Clatonia go head-to-head Tuesday at Memorial Stadium. Kickoff is set for 10:15 A.M. and will be televised on NET.