Fond du Lac knew it would see Kimberly again

Fond du Lac plays Kimberly in a Level 4 playoff game Friday. (Doug Ritchay/WLUK)

FOND DU LAC (WLUK) -- In its Week 1 win, Fond du Lac finally ended rival Kimberly's state-record winning streak at 70 games.

It was euphoria afterwards because in the teams' three previous meetings -- two in the postseason -- Kimberly managed to eke out victories.

This time Fond du Lac did the "ekeing" with a 31-28 win on a last-season field goal.

But guess which team stands in the way of Fond du Lac reaching its first state title game since 1987? Yes, Kimberly, which has eliminated the Cardinals in three of the last four postseasons.

The teams meet at Titan Stadium in Oshkosh on Friday in a Level 4 Division 1 playoff game and Fond du Lac knew it wasn't done seeing the Papermakers after Week 1.

"Figured we'd see Kimberly down the line in the playoffs," senior running back Eben Sauer said. "We beat them in the first game and we're a lot better than we were the first game and we're a lot better than we were the first game. We think we're going to get it done.

"Seems like we always had them in Level 3 before," said coach Steve Jorgensen, who led Kimberly to Division 2 state titles in 2007 and 2008 and a runner-up finish in 2009. "At least we have it another step closer to state; couple of those games I sure wish we would have had at Camp Randall.

"It would've been good for the fans of Wisconsin because they have been really good games. But, yeah, we knew we were going to have to go through them again."

Fond du Lac's week 1 win happened almost three months ago so how much does that win mean now?

"Very little do we take away from that," Jorgensen said. "They're a much better team. They can pass the heck out of the ball now. They probably didn't know they were that good of a passing team at that point and they found themselves in that area of the offense, so they're a really good football team."

But Fond du Lac is real good, too, maybe the best in the state. The Cardinals are physical upfront and have one of the state's best running game, rushing for 4,251 yards (2nd in the state) and 58 TDs (tied for 6th in the state).

Fond du Lac's running game will be a key in keeping Kimberly's high-powered passing game off the field.

"We have to control the clock, we understand that, but we have to score and their red zone defense is the best red zone defense we've seen," Jorgensen.

No question, Fond du Lac has the formula to do it.

Follow Doug Ritchay on Twitter @dougritchay