Crosstown rivals Central and East to square off in Level 3

Brookfield Central and Brookfield East will meet in the football playoffs for just the third time

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Outside of sitting two wins from a state-championship game, further motivation isn't needed for Brookfield Central or Brookfield East, teams with realistic goals of hoisting a gold ball at Camp Randall Stadium.

But that the crosstown rival standing in the way adds plenty of intrigue.

The Lancers and the Spartans will square off in the football postseason for just the third time in history Friday, Nov. 4, when third-seeded East visits top-seeded Central for a Level 3 game in the WIAA Division 2 playoffs.

Central takes regular-season meeting

In the regular-season meeting between the two teams this season, Central took a 29-13 halftime lead en route to a 43-14 victory on Sept. 15. It goes without saying, though, that the playoffs are a different world -- one only need to consult last year, when Central won the battle but East won the playoff rematch in Level 2.

Junior Zach Heckman ran for 101 yards and two touchdowns on 21 carries in the regular-season meeting this year to lead Central, while quarterback Drew Leszczynski, wide receiver Jimmy Rodgers and Heckman all threw touchdown passes.

When he's not in the unusual position of throwing for a touchdown, Heckman's 1,682 rushing yards are second in the Lake Country/Now Newspapers coverage area, behind only Peter MacCudden of Waukesha West (1,829). His 24 rushing touchdowns this season are No. 1 in the area.

East will be healthier at key positions for the rematch, as Sam Santiago-Lloyd and quarterback Jake Graf were limited by injuries in the first meeting.

Santiago-Lloyd attempted to play on offense against the Lancers after missing the week prior due to an ankle injury suffered against West Allis Central on Sept. 2. He carried the ball five times for 11 yards in the first quarter before being shut down for the night.

The All State running back has run for 1,015 yards and 11 touchdowns in the six games since the loss to Central, and he's up to 1,366 yards and 16 touchdowns for the year. Last year as a junior, he was named the All-Suburban Player of the Year for his work on both sides of the ball, which netted him Player of the Year accolades in the Greater Metro on both offense and defense.

Whichever team survives will face the winner of Menomonie and Pulaski in Level 4 on Nov. 11 with a trip to the Division 2 state championship game on the line. Central coach Jed Kennedy coached at Pulaski for one season, in 2012, after a tenure at Kenosha Bradford that included a state championship.

Road to Camp Randall

In its 16th appearance in the playoffs, Central has reached Level 3 for the fifth time in school history but for the first time since 2011. Each time the Lancers have won in Level 3, they eventually played for a state title.

In 1999, the Lancers took down Port Washington, 10-0, in Level 3 en route to making the state championship game where they lost to Menomonie. Central got past Franklin, 27-21, in Level 3 in 2002 but again lost to Menomonie in the state final. The Lancers downed Cedarburg, 37-16, in Level 3 in 2006 before falling to Franklin in the title game.

The last time Central made Level 3, Kennedy, then in charge of Kenosha Bradford, ended the Lancers season with a 27-0 rout.

Playing in the playoffs for the ninth time in school history, the Spartans have never made it to Level 4.

East lost, 24-14, to Whitefish Bay in 2012 and fell, 35-25, to Homestead last season in Level 3 games.

Crosstown playoff battle, part three

The Battle of Brookfield has spilled into the playoffs just twice prior, and both previous meetings were Level 2 overtime thrillers.

Central took a 10-0 halftime lead in 2002 on an 84-yard touchdown run by Ben Strickland on the first play from scrimmage and a 20-yard field goal by Dan Sturgill. East pulled to within 10-3 in the third quarter on a 26-yard field goal by David Palmer and sent the game to overtime on a 12-yard, fourth-quarter touchdown run by Bill Silberzahn.

Strickland, who finished with 137 yards on 26 carries, scored from three yards out in overtime to lift Central to a 17-10 win.

Last season, the Lancers and Spartans were tied 14-14 at halftime. A 36-yard touchdown run by East quarterback T.C. Swittel gave the Spartans a 21-14 lead, but Central tied the game on a 13-yard run by Malik Turner, who ran for 195 yards and three scores.

Santiago-Lloyd scored on an 8-yard run to make it 28-21 East in the fourth quarter. This time around, it was Central rallying to force overtime, as tight end Dillion Sehmer threw an 11-yard touchdown pass to quarterback Dominic Labellarte to even the score.

Parker Jensen kicked a 26-yard field goal for Central on the opening possession of overtime, but East won the game on a 4-yard touchdown run by Santiago-Lloyd.

Santiago-Lloyd and Swittel combined for 302 rushing yards and four touchdowns.

Will East's rushing attack get the best of Central's this time around, or will the Lancers down their rivals for the second time this year?

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