Three Teams Start Season with Non-Conference Wins
Fast For Win
It was a struggle from start to finish at the Coleman High School football last Friday as the Niagara/ Goodman/ Pembine Northern Elite Predators refused to give up in the 8-0 Cougar win.
There was a lot of breath holding in this one as neither team was able to take the advantage until the second half, when Coleman finally broke into the end zone thanks to a Bryce Karban to Austin Tachick touchdown pass.
"We knew this was going to be tough team," said Coleman Head Coach Jeff Bronson." They know how to win and their scores are always misleading. They really dominated up front and were much more physical. Our guys arn't a finesse style team."
But Northern Elite wasn't ready to call it quits, returning fire on the next drive with a quick hitting two pass play streak down to the one yard line. Thanks to a four play goal line stand by the big Cougars in the trenches, Coleman was able to hang on for the win.
"This game was an indication of how good we can be," said Northern Elite Head Coach Ben Laarman. "This is a state championship level team, and we had our chances but we couldn't finish, but it was exciting to see our guys do well."
The victory did not come without a cost though, as standout back for the Cougars, Austin Tachick, went down with a leg injury.
To start it looked as if the Predators would take the initiative. After the opening kick the Predators' Alex Dumke broke lose on a 74 yard rushing touchdown, but unfortunately for the Predators the run would be called back to their own 40 yard line due to an unnecessary roughness call.
"That's all on me," said Laarman. "We always say block till the whistle, we didn't spend enough time talking about when our guy is in the clear, don't hit anybody."
After the penalty Northern Elite failed to get the gears turning again, stalling out at the Coleman 45 yard line.
On the ensuing drive Coleman looked as if they were going to drive all the way to pay dirt, getting three first downs, one of which came off a 17 yard pass from Karban to Gunnar Patz. But on fourth and eight the Cougars saw their touchdown hopes erode as Dumke went up for an interception, giving Northern Elite the ball on their own 37 yard line.
The next Predator drive saw the Cougar defense come to life as Patz and Josh Pillath did their part in forcing the fourth and seven punt.
A fumble on the next drive cut the Coleman Cougars short of a touchdown, coughing the ball up on the Predators 12 yard line. On that play, Karban rolled out toward his own side line with Dumke quickly approaching for the tackle. Karban went for the stiff arm, which if successful would have left him free and clear for the end zone, but Dumke made sure that was not to be, slipping under the stiff arm he punched the ball free and quickly covered it for the turnover.
"He came up and made a lot of tackles for us today," said Laarman. "He has always been speedy, but this year we were looking for him to become more physical and he did that with all the time he put into the weight room along with many of his teammates."
Northern Elite failed to produce points off the turnover as the Coleman defense again came up with the stop forcing a quick three and out.
With the half quickly approaching Northern Elite went to the air, connecting on a Dumke to Daniel Borchardt 32 yard pass reception. After a few plays the ball was on the Coleman 33 yard line and the Predators faced a fourth and two situation. Jordan Blanchard and Kade Klimek made sure their wouldn't be any additional plays on the drive, teaming up for the turnover tackle in the backfield.
Receiving the kick after the intermission the Cougars built a 12 play drive that would end in a touchdown.
"We didn't get behind the chains," said Bronson. "It was the only time all game we really played. But they really did make us work hard all game."
That touchdown came when Karban tossed a short pass to Tachick in the flats from 15 yards out. After the teedee Karban hit an open Patz in the corner of the end zone for the two point conversion.
The remaining minutes of the third went by without an awful lot of offense, but a considerable amount of strong defensive play, as both teams limited the other gains.
That was until the final minutes of the fourth when Northern Elite turned to their long range artillery.
On fourth and five with the ball resting on the Predators own 15, Dumke aired it out. Finding Borchardt open on a deep slant route across the field. The ball was thrown perfectly and Borchardt pulled it in regardless of the fact that it came in directly over the top of his head, landing directly in the his outstretched hands.
The next play Dumke struck like lightening again, connecting with Jacob Bousley on a streak route down the Northern Elite sideline. As the ball approached it was anyones play, but Bousley was the one who came away with it thanks to a quick undercut. After securing the ball Bousley made a couple quick moves before getting tackled on the one yard line.
Facing a first and goal from one yard out with only 30 seconds remaining the Cougars had to dig deep, and dig deep they did, as Patz got through the line for the one yard loss back field tackle on first down.
On second down, Tachick chipped into the effort, tackling Dumke for another one yard loss. The stop may have just saved the game, but Tachick paid the price, injuring his knee.
Third down saw Dumke's pass go out the back of the end zone, setting up a crucial fourth and three attempt with 10 seconds left.
This time it was Jacob Zeitler who had his number called, dragging down the ball carrier short of the goal line.
After the stonewall defensive stand the Cougars got into their victory formation, as Karban put his knee to the field in victory.
On the day the Cougars amassed 171 yards of total offense to Northern Elite's 225.
Of Coleman's 171 yards, 116 came through the ground and pound, 78 of which was gained by Coleman's leading rusher Tachick on 13 carries. The other 55 yards were gained through the air.
Northern Elite added up 104 yards rushing, 91 off the legs of Dumke, while moving 121 yards down field through the air. Receivers Daniel Borchardt and Jacob Bousley both pulled in two receptions, Brochardt went for 46 yards while Bousley carried for 75 yards.
Northern Elite's Dumke pulled down one interception while the Cougars coughed up three fumbles, one for a turnover which was also covered by Dumke.
"We escaped and hopefully will be better next week," said Bronson. "We knew we had some things to fix and now we are more aware of them."
Storm in Opener
The Peshtigo Bulldogs opened the 2016 campaign with a strong performance over the Kewaunee Storm Friday night. Defense played a big role at Bulldog Stadium as Peshtigo shut out Kewaunee in a 26-0 victory.
"It's a win, we're 1-0. We need to clean up some of the mistakes and hopefully that will help for next week but defensively we played a hell of a game," Peshtigo Coach Eric Seyler said.
Dakota Heckel opened up the scoring for Peshtigo on the first play of the second quarter as he punched in a 1-yard touchdown run. With a successful point after the Bulldogs grabbed a 7-0 lead.
"It's always nice to play from ahead. That helped us to get on a rhythm offensively where we could settle down and get going. It was pretty big for us to score first," Seyler stated.
The touchdown helped to open the door to a big second quarter for the Bulldogs. Peshtigo scored a total of three touchdowns in the quarter. To go along with Heckel's opening touchdown, Dalton Keller was on the receiving end of a pair of touchdown passes from quarterback Justin Thill. The first game at the 10:22 mark in the second quarter from 7 yards out, the second was a 21-yard strike at the 3:28 mark in the quarter. Peshtigo led at the half 19-0.
After a stalemate to begin the fourth quarter, Heckel ran in the only score of the second half with 1:52 left in the third quarter from 15 yards out to extend the lead to 26-0. Defense was the name of the game as Peshtigo shut down the Kewaunee attack all night on their way to the victory.
"We have guys back on defense that have been here for the past couple of years. That was the game plan, we were hoping Gavin Forsberg would create a lot of havoc and he did. The linebackers stepped up too so it worked out well and made it easier for the offense with the short field," Seyler said of his defense's performance.
Quarterback Justin Thill finished 11 of 26 for 77 yards and 2 touchdowns for Peshtigo while Heckel ran the ball 13 times for 82 yards and 2 scores. Keller also found the end zone twice on 2 catches for 28 yards.
Wesley Gallenbrger led Kewaunee through the air completing 10 of 23 pass attempts for 84 yards. The Storms Mitch Kudick was on the receiving end of 5 of those tosses picking up 54 yards. Lincoln Barta led the Storm on the ground grinding out 30 yards in 15 attempts.
The Suring Eagles had their hands full Friday night with the tough and quick to cover Laona/Wabeno Rebels, squeaking out a one score overtime victory 13-7 on the Rebels home land.
The win can be chalked up as a little luck on the Eagles side, overcoming three interceptions and three fumbles to come out on top. The old adage stating whoever wins the turnover battle usually wins the game didn't ring true, thanks to a little magic by the Eagles ground and pound attack.
This one definitely wasn't a shootout, but did have plenty of gains by the Eagles who ended the night with 299 yards of total offense, 61 yards through the air and 238 on the ground.
Carrying the bulk of the load was the tough and determined John Christensen, who led the game rushers with 92 yards on 14 carries. Though he enjoyed considerable success working his way around a few Rebels he had to fight through the anguish of losing three fumbles and three interceptions, a tough task.
Joining Christensen in the back field was Cody Smith, who churned out a respectable 72 yards and a teedee on 12 carries.
Brett Belongia chipped in 51 yards to the fort while also tagging on six points.
After a scoreless first quarter the Eagles broke the 0-0 deadlock with a seven yard touchdown run by Belongia. Cody Johnson did the extra point work, crossing into the end zone on the ground.
Laona/Wabeno kept the surprise coming, answering the Suring touchdown with a kickoff return for six points by Brandon Moravec from 85 yards out.
After intermission the game saw no scores from either gridiron gang as the fourth quarter clock expired and overtime began.
It would be Smith who would deliver the final nail, hammering home a six yard run to secure the 13-7 victory.
On the defensive end, Suring's Christensen got a little compensation for the fees he paid, pulling down an interception while forcing one fumble. He also led the team in tackles getting five solo and seven team. Dante Carlson also did his part in the trench struggle with two solo and nine team tackles.
Crivitz Gets Rocked
The Crivitz Wolverines hosted the Bonduel Bears Friday evening for their first gridiron showdown of the season.
The contest was a one-sided battle as the Bonduel Bears obliterated the Wolverines 41-0.
Not only was the score lopsided, but the stat sheets as well, with the Bears piling up 366 yards of total offense to the Wolverines 46 yards.
Those 46 yards were dwarfed by the Bears defensive gains, sacking the Wolverine quarterback six times for a loss of 49 yards.
The Bears passing attack was led by Parker Bohm who amassed 57 yards on three completions.
Jacob Banker was the evening's leading rusher, getting 97 yards on 14 carries for the Bears.
The Wolverines Travis Kudick passed for 64 yards
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