Rockford, Illinois-The tide is turning a little in the Big Northern Conference this season with the rise of Lutheran and North Boone. The 3-0 Crusaders are set to take the field tomorrow night against another 3-0 team Winnebago in our Wendy's Game Of The Week.
This will be one of the biggest games in years for Lutheran.
"I think it'll be like a playoff atmosphere for our kids and for our school because it's been a long time since they were 3-0, so there's a sense of excitement," said Lutheran Coach Bruce Bazsali to WTVO.
The Crusaders haven't been 3-0 since 2000. The Crusaders are winning with a dynamic offense that averages 58 points per game. This year they're not only throwing the ball in their spread offense, they've had success running the ball behind freshman James Robinson and Junior Jaylen Foster.
"Defenses look at it now and they say that Lutheran isn't all about passing anymore. They have a run attack. They have two solid RBS that we need to be ready for," said Lutheran Quarterback Jake Milbourn.
"We've always wanted to run, but we weren't able to. This year the kids have a much better grasp on the offense," said Bazsali.
"Lutheran is a quality team. They've got a lot of skill guys," said Bazsali. "They remain consistent with their offense. The move the ball around a lot, and they've got people that can hurt you."
So does Winnebago. The Indians have scored 40 or more points in all three of their games. Ryan Swigart has developed into a very good quarterback, and he's surrounding by playmakers like Tay Shanklin, Michael Pate, Derek Polkowski and Jacoby Posley.
"Right now the team has done pretty good. I think there's still some things we need to work on. Get a little better as a team. Just keep working hard," said Posley.
It's accepted that Winebago's a very strong team based on what the Indians have done the past few years under coach Helm. What this game will tell us all is whether or not Lutheran is truly ready to compete with the Big Boys in the Big Northern.
"If you can say you hang with them or come away with a win or hang with them I think you're definitely moving in the right directionr as a program," said Milbourn.
"I don't know if this will define us. I think our season will define us, but I think we've arrived. And I think we're ready for a game like this. We need a game like this," said Bazsali.