Last Friday, the Lodi football team survived a scare in the first round of the WIAA Division 4 football playoffs, narrowly escaping its home field with a 38-31 victory over Mayville.
For Blue Devils senior linebacker Max Barreau, the feeling that comes with falling behind in the fourth quarter of a playoff game provided a wake-up call.
“Now we know we have to not screw around and do what we need to do every week,” Barreau said. “It’s the playoffs now, and every team in the playoffs is going to be good.”
Barreau leads a defense that faces the challenge of stopping a pass-heavy Platteville team, which put up 54 points last week. During the regular season, Lodi allowed an average of 8.1 points per game.
Named the Capitol North Conference Defensive Player of the Year, Barreau leads Lodi with 41 solo tackles, is tied for the team lead with 45 stops and has 11 tackles for loss and three sacks.
He said a key will be the need to pressure Platteville quarterback Ethan Bernhardt, who threw for a school-record 433 yards in a 54-42 victory over Beloit Turner last week.
It’s a tall task, but Barreau is always looking for a challenge.
For instance, he’s a mathematics guy who is considering attending the University of Wisconsin next fall to study engineering. He’s currently taking calculus, a class he said he enjoys.
Well, not all the time.
“Some days, yeah, some days not so much,” Barreau said. “But I still like the challenge and not just having an easy class to blow through.”
Barreau has been playing football since fourth grade, where he was immediately slotted as a linebacker. He said playing the position for such a long time has given him a leg up on the field.
“I developed an instinct for the position and I know where I need to be and what my job is,” Barreau said.
That’s been vital to the Blue Devils this season, said senior cornerback Dominic Scola, Barreau’s best friend.
“We look at him as a fallback sometimes,” Scola said. “If our defense ever makes a mistake, he’ll usually be there to clean stuff up.”
But there won’t be room for many mistakes Friday.
Slowing Bernhardt and the high-powered Hillmen will require a stellar performance from the two seniors, who have their sights set on a state championship, despite last week’s close call.
“I feel like we just didn’t play our best game and Mayville gave us one heck of a fight,” Barreau said.
“A lot of bounces went their way. But we played through it as a team and knew that we weren’t done yet.”
Scola said he hopes the Blue Devils aren’t done until they hoist hardware at Camp Randall Stadium.
“As each week goes by, as each game goes by, you kind of start to realize more and more that this is it,” Scola said. “It’s bittersweet. But everything comes to an end. I’m just hoping it ends the way we want it to end.”
Barreau said he’s trying to make the most of his final few outings and that the thought of wrapping up his play at Lodi has pushed him to work a little harder.
“I want to go off on a good note,” Barreau said. “I don’t want my season to be done until we get where we want to be.”