Tale of the Week - Lakeland vs. Concordia (Wis.) Inside the Cheese Bowl
Athletics - posted on 10/10/2005
This Saturday in Mequon, the top two teams in the Illini-Badger Football Conference clash in what could prove to be the deciding game in the title hunt. But that's not the only reason why the Lakeland-Concordia, Wis., contest is a big game.
The battle has turned into one of the bigger NCAA Division III rivalries in the Midwest, culminating each year with post-game awarding of the Cheese Bowl trophy.
Set aside the silly name - these two teams take this game seriously.
Although it isn't the longest running rivalry in the nation, with the teams having only met 31 times since 1947, it pits the only two teams in the IBFC located in Wisconsin against each other.
Add to that the close proximity of the schools (about a 30-mile drive directly down Interstate 43) and the fact that the two teams have been mainstays in the top of the conference for three years running, and this rivalry is like no other in the conference, and among the best in the state of Wisconsin.
In the first match-up in 1947, Lakeland defeated Concordia 20-0 under head coach Marinus Kregel. They won again the next year before the match took a four-year hiatus. When the game reconvened in 1952, it was Concordia that came out victorious, but Lakeland then went on a four-game winning streak before the series went on hiatus once again.
The teams have met each year since 1980, with Concordia winning 16 of those 24 meetings, including the last five.
But that doesn't mean it's not a rivalry. Before the season, the talk throughout the IBFC pointed toward this game as being a possible IBFC title game. But unlike most college football rivalries, the teams don't hate each other as many might think.
"I respect their coaching staff a ton," said Lakeland head coach Jim Zebrowski, who faces the Falcons for the third time this week. "Their kids play hard, and our kids play hard. It's just a fun game to play."
However, that doesn't mean the teams want the win any less, especially this year, when the outright conference championship may be on the line.
"It's Division III college football at its best," Zebrowski said. "I think there are two games alumni come back for: Homecoming and the Concordia game because they know how much is at stake."
Concordia leads the series, 17-14, heading into the 1 p.m. match-up on Saturday. The winner will have the inside track for the conference championship and the IBFC champ's automatic playoff berth with three weeks remaining.
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