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The leaders from each of the four conferences clash on Saturday, with the winners being #1 in either the East or the West. The losers go on to take on another team for the #2 seed.

In the East, the Cleveland Rovers visit Michiana, while in the West, Wisconsin goes to Bremer County.

Despite most of the top seeds being decided early in the fall, there was still a nice battle to see who got to host their respective playoffs. In the West, it all came down to October 20, when Wisconsin lost 18-12 to Lincoln Park.

“That game cost us a home playoff,” said Wisconsin Head Coach Joe Lippert. “Lincoln Park did a great job, and came up and beat us. But we didn’t play well and I think we were suffering from a bit of complacency. We had gone through a bye and two fairly easy games, so the guys thought it would be easy.”

Wisconsin did bounce back. Facing 5-2 South Side Irish they needed to win to make sure Lincoln Park didn’t beat them out for first. Not only did they win, they won 39-0, controlling the game in almost every aspect.

The shutout capped off a season where they averaged fewer than 10 points a game.

“Defense is what we take pride in,” said Lippert. “We started without much structure, but we’ve developed structure. We talk to all the players about having a role on defense and how you need to take pride in your role.”

Wisconsin has been led by Andrew Hanske, who notched 11 tries over the season, good for 2nd in the league.

“Whenever we look at what player made the most positive plays, who had the biggest impact in a game, it’s usually Hanske,” said Lippert. “He’s been terrific and is a joy to coach.”

Flyhalf and chief goalkicker Miles Jobke will not be at the game for Wisconsin, as he has a work commitment everyone knew about for a long time. At least the club is able to plan for it.

Wisconsin visits Bremer County who were similarly dominant in their league, going 7-1 and average 14 points allowed per game while scoring 51 on average.

Eric Whitcome leads the team with nine tries, while Randall Russell leads the entire Midwest DII with 101 points in eight games. Eric Nichols capped off his regular season two weeks ago with a three-try performance in a 99-5 crushing of the Westside Condors.

In the East, Michiana has been perfect, finishing 8-0.

“We had sewn up 1st a few weeks ago,” said club president Will Mishler. “So we set as a goal to make sure we hosted the playoffs. So the guys didn’t really let off at all. They kept playing their best and we kept putting our best team out there.”

With No. 8 and leader Conrad Bontrager missing time due to work and injury, the team has stepped up as a whole.

“We’re still a little concerned about the defense, although a lot of the tries we’ve given up came when we were up late in the game,” said Mishler. “But we kept setting new goals for ourselves and we are playing well together.”

Michiana has two regular players who are still in high school, in scrumhalf Troy Tirotta, and wing Teddy Terezis, who is also the team’s goalkicker and has been playing less than 12 months.

Terezis ended up 2nd in the league in points with 96.

Michiana is 8-0 and favored at home, but they play a tough Cleveland Rovers team that had to battle all season to win at 6-2, their first season up from DIII. The Rover actually lost their last game of the season, but had already clinched first by then.

Derek Imes has had a strong season kicking goals for them, while both Steve Burke and Scott Wallace have nine tries.

“They are a tough team I think in a good league,” said Mishler. “But I don’t think any conference is as competitive, top to bottom, as ours is. Every game for us was tough, and I think that will help us.”