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THE CITY REBORN FROM THE ASHES OF AMERICA'S MOST DISASTROUS FOREST FIRE
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Coleman Falls to Reedsville in D7 Title Game

Issue Date: November 24, 2021

WIAA?State Football Playoff

The Reedsville Panthers made the plays required to win Thursday's Division 7 State Championship, while the Coleman Cougars made some uncharacteristic mistakes in a 17-0 loss.

It started early. The first drive of the game, a Cougar possession, came to a halt after a fumble on second down that Coleman recovered and an eight-yard loss on a third-down sack.

On fourth down, Reedsville blocked a punt off the foot of Noah Nosgovitz and took over at the Coleman nine. One play later, the Panthers were in the end zone and led 7-0.

On the ensuing drive, it looked like Coleman had steadied the ship. An 11-play drive took Coleman down to the Panther three, where the Cougars came up short on fourth down.

After a second-quarter touchdown by Reedsville's Brennen Dvorachek, Coleman made it deep into Reedsville territory again before halftime, but again came up short when Westen Liebzeit intercepted a Nosgovitz pass in the end zone on second and goal, and returned it to their own 48 yard line.

In the first half, Coleman turned the ball over three times and came up short in two goal-to-go situations.

"That was the key. We had opportunities to get ourselves back in the game and we never finished. It's uncharacteristic of us, but also, we played a pretty good team today," Coleman coach Jeff Bronson said. "You can't have turnovers and we had three in the first half. Sometimes you just put yourself in a hole you can't overcome. In the second half, we had to try and do some things that really aren't our strength. We didn't control the ball, and they definitely did."

Coleman would have only two drives in the second half, as Reedsville drained the clock with drives of 8 minutes, 41 seconds and 5 minutes, 56 seconds. The latter ended in a field goal, while the former saw the clock run out with two kneel downs deep in Coleman territory.

The Panthers didn't throw a single pass all game, but Dvorachek, the team's quarterback, ran 30 times for 128 yards and one touchdown.

"He's got a long stride and he's pretty strong too. If you hit him in the hips or legs, he still went on for a little bit and when he falls, he gets an extra few yards," Coleman junior linebacker Owen Kinziger said. "They had a lot of speed on the outside and we just couldn't get around to get there. They just kept blocking us down. They did a good job of sealing the outside."

Liebzeit also took 11 carries for 63 yards and a score, while Cole Ebert ran 12 times for 55 Panther yards.

Junior Coleman linebacker Peter Kuchta said the Cougars were expecting more passing from Reedsville, but overall, Coleman's coaches and players said they knew they were going to have to stop Dvorachek and the whole Panther run game.

"They got big pushes on us. Their fullback, he's a tank. When he gets running and you hit him, he still pushes you backwards," Nosgovitz, a senior defensive back and the team's starting quarterback, said. "They got outside on us a few times. We let them get outside, and that's what happened."

Coleman was uncharacteristically ineffective running the ball. Kinziger, who ran for over 1,000 yards in back-to-back seasons, took just four carries for 12 yards.

Will Bieber led the team with 12 rushes for 48 yards, while Kuchta carried seven times for 35 yards. In total, Coleman ran 31 times for just 117 yards. Through the air, Nosgovitz was 3-for-8 for 49 yards and one interception. Bieber had a 34-yard catch for most of Coleman's receiving yards.

Despite the loss, This Coleman football season will be remembered for a very long time. It was the first time the Cougars had made it to state, and seeing your team out on the turf at Camp Randall is an unforgettable experience.

"It was pretty breathtaking walking into the stadium," Bieber said. "The field was beautiful and everything about it was amazing: big stands, all the fans, it was truly something special."

The Cougars had great fan support in Madison, just as they often do for state wrestling tournaments down at the Kohl Center or UW Fieldhouse.

"There might be two or three people left in Coleman today," Bronson said. "This town always follows Coleman's athletics, and it's always fun to watch. It doesn't matter the sport, it doesn't matter the season, they're always behind these kids."

It was the last time the Coleman fans will watch seniors Tieg Sadowski, Nosgovitz, Brody Zahn, Cole Klimek, Eli Zablocki, Owen Messenger, John Zirbel, Jesse Borchert, Liam Zeitler, Isaiah Becker and Devin Bort, but Coleman will bring back a big roster that includes 12 juniors. Having that mix was part of what made Coleman so good over the past couple of years.

"Starting last year, we had a great team. If we would have made it in the playoffs, I'm pretty sure we'd have been here too," Zahn said. "Coming into this year, I knew we were going to make it pretty far, I knew we had a solid team, and it's just rewarding being able to play on this field, but we didn't get the outcome we wanted. That's all you can ask for in your senior season is making it to the very last game you can."

Thursday's loss will be added motivation for those that remain on the Coleman roster next year.

"There's a couple guys in the weight room during the season, but to win championships, you need everybody, and we didn't do that," Bieber said. "I think a lot more people will get in the weight room, work harder. I think people are going to step up, and we'll see what we can do next year."

Defensive coordinator Jody Styczynski agreed.

"Sometimes, the greatest disappointments in life are the best learning lessons, so for us to come up short here today, yeah, it's not what we wanted, but maybe it's the best thing for this team too, and I guess moving forward, you're going to see that change in our kids where we're going to have more attendance in the weight room because that's really where it all begins," he said. "I'm very proud of what we did this year. Satisfied, I don't think so. I think there's more left in the tank, and I think our guys know that too."


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