New Berlin — Dom Bledsoe and his New Berlin West teammates made sure only one team from the city would be playing in the playoffs.
In the regular season finale, Bledsoe passed for five first-half touchdowns and rushed for another in his team's 42-7 victory over crosstown rival New Berlin Eisenhower on Oct. 20.
The Vikings improved to 6-3 overall and 6-2 in the Woodland Conference and finished one game behind Blue Division champion Brown Deer, who held on to first place with a 71-36 drubbing of Whitnall that night.
"We had a chance to tie for the conference title and that says a lot about our kids in year one of what we're trying to do," first-year West coach Aaron Mack said. "We would have kind of backed into it but we would have taken it. It's a sign for our kids of what you can do if you do things right on and off the field.
Added Bledsoe, "We were really hoping that Whitnall would pull through for us, but we just had to do what we had to do. All that we could concentrate on was us beating Ike, not on Brown Deer and not on Whitnall."
Bursting out of the gates
Bledsoe got things going on the Vikings' first drive, completing both of his pass attempts, including a 53-yard strike to Adam Ruiz for a touchdown with 8 minutes, 31 seconds left in the first quarter.
The senior quarterback added TD passes of 29, 25 and 35 yards to Chad Mathwig before the first quarter was over.
In the second quarter, Bledsoe and running back Jake Liban connected for a beautifully executed screen pass that resulted in a 43-yard touchdown. Bledsoe later added a 5-yard TD run in the half's final minutes.
The win snapped the Vikings' string of five straight losses to the Lions, dating back to 2004.
"I got thrust into this rivalry and it's a good one, but it really hasn't been one until we do our part in it, and hopefully we started it a little bit (Oct. 20)," Mack said. "I found out a lot of times kids' true colors come out in these rivalry games. Our kids battled hard, a great team victory, but not because we beat these guys, but because we're playing our best football at the end of the season."
Bledsoe finished 12 for 15 for 302 yards, 276 of them in the first half. Mathwig caught five first-half passes for 108 yards and Liban finished with three receptions for 93 yards.
"It's huge. The last couple of years we couldn't pull through (against Eisenhower)," Bledsoe said. "We had momentum from (an Oct. 15 win over Brown Deer). (The Lions) are still a good team and we just showed up ready to play. We came out as a team, came out as a brotherhood. It's huge going into the playoffs beating those two teams. Those teams are probably the hardest teams that were on our schedule this year and we won them both."
The Vikings' defense was also impressive, holding Eisenhower to just 150 first-half yards.
Models of consistency
Entering this season, only six of 21 NOW area teams had playoff streaks of two years or more. New Berlin Eisenhower's area-best streak ended at 10 this fall:
10 SEASONS: Eisenhower
9: Franklin, Homestead
3: Whitefish Bay
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