Running back Marshall Klitzke is a big reason for Providence Academy treading on new turf: a sectional football championship game.
The Providence Academy Lions are treading on new turf, having advanced to Friday's Class 3A, Section 5 football championship game against Rockford.
It's a milestone in the school's 11-year history, the first time Providence has ventured this deep into the football postseason. And the Lions would be nowhere near this close to a state tournament berth were it not for senior running back Marshall Klitzke.
Klitzke has been putting up noteworthy rushing totals all season, but he elevated his game during the first two rounds of the playoffs. He rushed for 622 yards -- including a school-record 376 yards in a semifinal victory over Breck -- and scored seven touchdowns.
Staff writer Jim Paulsen talked with Klitzke about his game, his team and how far he travels to school.
Q You had a pretty impressive week. Talk about it.
A We have a lot of confidence going for us right now. We're feeling pretty good. Beating Breck was big.
Q Providence was undefeated until losing to Holy Family in the section semifinals. Has that experience carried over to this year?
A It left us with a little chip on our shoulders. Holy Family was the best team we played in Providence history. We hadn't seen a team of that caliber before. They took it to us.
Q How much better is this team?
A We play in a new, tougher conference [the Tri-Metro] and we've seen and played better quality teams. It's gotten us a lot more prepared.
Q You've had some monster games so far in the playoffs. Why?
A It just seems like I keep getting more and more confident with every carry. I'm seeing the holes and the cutbacks really well. And the [offensive] line has been great about opening holes.
Q What was your reaction when you heard you had 376 rushing yards against Breck?
A I knew I had a lot of yards, but I had no idea how many. They announced it in the fourth quarter and I was in shock.
Q How big is the upcoming game for Providence Academy?
A It means a ton to us. Each year, Providence football has gone to greater lengths, but, like our coach told us last week, a lot of people don't even know who we are. They're wondering "Who are these guys?" We've started to make a name for ourselves.
Q How long have you gone to Providence?
A Since I was in ninth grade. I played youth football in Annandale and we still live in Annandale.
Q How did you make it from Annandale to a private Catholic school in Plymouth?
A I play hockey, too, and when I was in eighth grade, I played in a tournament with some kids from Providence. We decided to look at the school and we liked it.
Q That's a long commute.
A It is. It's about an hour each way.
Q With football and the long drive, how do you get any studying done?
A Well, I have a study hall, which helps, but it does keep me really busy. I have some pretty late nights.
Q Annandale is still alive in the Class 3A playoffs, too. Do you follow them?
A Oh yeah. I keep up with them. That would be pretty cool to get the chance to play them.