Traverse City Record-Eagle

Traverse City Wolves

October 17, 2009

Wolves, Raiders in rematch

Teams meet tonight in North semifinal game

TRAVERSE CITY -- The Racine Raiders were the first team to ever beat the Traverse City Wolves.

Doing it twice may not be as easy as the first time.

The Wolves are on the road for tonight's 8 p.m. North Division semifinal at Racine, the same place Traverse City fell 43-6 in late August.

"By far, that was our worst game of the season," Wolves head coach and owner Daniel Skibbe said. "We know we've gotten so much better since then. We got better because we played them."

Traverse City (8-3) committed seven turnovers in that loss.

"It's a very hostile crowd, almost like Michigan at Ohio Stadium," Skibbe said. "It will help having been there before, knowing where the locker rooms are at, what the crowd is like. Hopefully, we can tune them out a little better than last time."

Racine (11-2) enters the game fresh off a 21-14 win last week against defending North American Football League champ Indianapolis.

"It's going to be a big, physical game," Skibbe said. "They have 20-30 former Division 1 or pro guys. They're in the upper echelon, talent wise."

A week ago, the Wolves opened up the offense a little more and it worked in a 20-6 home victory over London, Ont., at Thirlby Field. Quarterback Will Moran had a couple of touchdown passes and moved his season passing yards to 827.

"Defensively, (Racine) is very bruising, just like us," Skibbe said. "The one thing they were able to do was pressure us up the middle. We're going to open up the spread a little bit and make them play our game, instead of us playing theirs."

Racine also has the ability to put the ball in the air. Quarterback Brett Hall has 871 yards this season while Ron Ricciardi has also completed 26 passes for 341 yards.

"Our defense all year long has stopped the run, (but against Racine) we gave up too many big plays in the passing game," Skibbe said.

Today's winner will earn a berth in the North Division title game against either the Dakota Lawdogs or the St. Paul Pioneers. Both teams have 11 wins on the season.

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