The first day of the 39th Annual WIAA State Football Finals crowned four champions with temperatures in the teens throughout the day and evening at Camp Randall Stadium in Madison.
Somerset (14-0) captured the title with a 28-16 triumph over Little Chute in the championship game, giving the Spartans their second Division 4 title in the last three years.
The Spartans utilized a methodical ground attack, grinding out yards and and time of possession. 71 carries and possessed the ball for 33:49 to 14:11 advantage. However, it was through air that they grabbed a 6-0 lead. Reed Baillargeon tossed a 16-yard strike to William Kieckhoefer at 6:59 of the first quarter, but the point-after was blocked.
Little Chute (11-3) took the lead midway through the second quarter when Shane Schwaller hauled in a 9-yard throw from Sam Merryfield, who set a Division 4 record with 21 completions. The Spartans drove 84 yards in 3:35 to take 14-7 lead on a 1-yard plunge by Maxwell Praschak and a successful two-point conversion.
The Mustangs cut the deficit to 14-10 with a Eric Hietpas field goal at the end of the second quarter.
Somerset began imposing its will on the Mustang defense, running the ball effectively in the third quarter. The Spartans went on a 13-play scoring drive–all running plays–that covered 60 yards and consumed 6:52 to increase their lead to 20-10. Praschak scored his second rushing touchdown with a 3-yard run. He carried the ball 46 times to set a State finals record and gained 218 yards.
They expanded their lead to 28-10 with a 16-yard run from Mitchell Foster and a successful two-point conversion with 2:16 remaining in the third quarter.
The Mustangs attempted to get back into the game in the fourth quarter when Merryfield hit Kyle Hietpas with a 30-yard scoring pass with 10:32 in the final quarter. The Little Chute defense forced a turnover with just under nine minutes to play, but the Spartans intercepted a deep pass in their own territory to swing the momentum.
Baillargeon added 109 yards rushing for the Spartans. He completed his only pass attempt of the game for a 16-yard touchdown. Merryfield led the Mustangs offense with 279 yards passing and two touchdowns and two interceptions. The stout Spartan rushing defense held the Mustangs to -1 yard rushing for the game, which establishes a Divison 4 record for fewest yards rushing in a title game. The two teams tied the Division 4 record for the most combined first downs with 40.
It is Somerset’s third State championship overall, while Little Chute finishes runner-up in its first-ever State final appearance.
Lancaster (13-1) won the Division 5 championship by downing Amherst 41-21 in the final, which comes on the heels of three straight runner-up finishes. It’s the Flying Arrows’ seventh State championship, tying Stratfrord for the most of any member school.
Lancaster took the opening kickoff and drove 69 yards on seven plays take a 7-0 lead in the first quarter, capped by a 13-yard run by Tyler Glass. The Falcons answered with a 73-yard scoring drive on its ensuing possession. Garrett Groshek sprinted 44 yards for the game-tying touchdown.
On its next drive, Amherst drove the ball to the Lancaster 39, but turned it over on downs. Three plays later on a third-and-13, Nick Wood raced 72 yards down the sideline to give the Flying Arrows a 14-7 advantage with 1:20 to play in the opening quarter.
Amherst (13-1) responded again with a 16-yard run by Connor Zblewski to knot the score at 14-14. Lancaster regained the lead on its next drive, controlling the ball for 5:02 and scoring on a 2-yard burst by Glass with 5:31 remaining in the first half. The Falcons appeared ready to answer with a game-tying score when they turned the ball over on a fumble at the Lancaster 3-yard line just before the half.
The second half was controlled by the Flying Arrows. Tyler Glass scored two more touchdowns in the second half to give him four for the game, one on a 28-yard scoring strike from Nate Tranel at 4:20 in the third quarter and the other on a jaunt of two yards with 11:20 to go in the game to make the score 35-14.
The Falcons cut the deficit to 35-21 with 5:53 remaining in the game on a 3-yard Zblewski run, but Brett Snider sealed the victory for the Flying Arrows with a 76-yard dash down the sideline for the final score of the game.
Lancaster rushed for 389 yards, including 169 and three touchdowns by Glass, 79 yards by Wood and 76 from Snider. Nate Tranel completed 3-of-9 passes for 45 yards and a touchdown, and he also rushed for 66 yards. Amherst had a pair of 100-yard rushers. Groshek ran for 157 yards and a touchdown, and Zblewski added 105 yards with a pair of scores. Groshek also connected on 12-of-26 passes for 143 yards with two interceptions.
Andy Ryan set a Division 5 record for tackles in a State final with 22.
Lancaster had a slight advantage in total offense with 434 yards, compared to 416 for the Falcons. Amherst finishes runner-up in its second appearance in the final, both coming in the last three seasons, winning the title in 2012.
St. Mary’s Springs (14-0) jumped out to an early 21-0 lead, but needed a comeback in the fourth quarter to win its third State Division 5 championship in the last four seasons with a 37-28 win over Darlington.
Blake Bauer and Sam Spranger each scored on 1-yard runs to give the Ledgers a 14-0 lead. With 4:55 remaining in the half, a bit a razzle-dazzle extended the lead to 21-0 on a hook-and-ladder play. Bauer hit Collin Ottery, who pitched to Mark Austin for an 11-yard scoring play.
That’s when the Redbirds (12-2) began making things interesting. Miles Leahy broke free to score on a 42-yard run with 2:43 remaining on the second quarter clock to narrow the margin to 21-6. The Ledgers fumbled on the ensueing kickoff, and Darlington recovered deep in St. Mary’s Springs territory. Two plays later, the Redbirds were in the end zone on a 10-yard Hunter Johnson touchdown run. With the two-point conversion, the Redbirds deficit was reduced to 21-14 with 1:55 in the half.
Another Ledgers fumble on the next kickoff was recovered by the Redbirds, and Jason Singer rushed for a 14-yard score a few plays later to tie the game at 21-21 just before halftime. However, the leg of kicker Zach Hintze gave the Ledgers a 24-21 halftime lead with a 49-yard field goal, which set a Division 6 State final record and tied the State mark for any division.
Hintze added a field goal for the only scoring in the third quarter to increase the St. Mary’s Springs lead to 27-21. On its next possession, Darlington drove 83 yards in 14 plays to take its first lead of the game at 28-27 on a 14-yard scamper by Johnson.
The Ledgers retook the lead on a 39-yard field goal from Hintze with 4:19 remaining in the game. They added insurance on their next drive on a 26-yard pass from Bauer to Luke Gellings with 51 seconds remaining to secure the victory.
Bauer completed 6-of-9 passes for 136 yards and two touchdowns, and Sam Spranger and Austin fueled the rushing attack with 77 and 72 yards, respectively to lead the Ledgers. Leahy rushed for 84 yards and Jason Singer added 68 yards on the ground for the Redbirds. Johnson scored twice to go with his 58 yards rushing.
It was the fifth State title for the St. Mary’s Springs, and Darlington finishes runner-up for the second straight season.
Owen-Withee (13-1) won the Division 7 championship with a 17-12 win over Pepin-Alma. The Blackhawks capitalized on a failed fake punt attempt by the Eagles on their own 23-yard line. Austin Milliren scored on a 10-yard run to give the Blackhawks a 6-0 lead after a failed point-after attempt.
The Blackhawks increased their lead to 9-0 with a 22-yard field goal by Kole Karaba just before intermission. The score remained unchanged through the third quarter. Owen-Withee extended the lead to 17-0 with 7:24 remaining in the game on a 15-yard run by Bryce Niemi and a 2-point conversion on the point-after.
The Eagles (13-1) broke into the scoring column with just under five minutes to play with a 6-yard pass from Sam Mueller to Ronnie Engstrom to narrow the deficit to 17-6. Mueller tossed another scoring strike with 2:50 remaining, connecting with Randall Engstrand on a 10-yard pass.
The Blackhawks were able to run out the clock with two first downs on the ensuing drive to clinch the victory and their third State Championship. They also won Division 6 championships in 1992 and 1999.
Milliren rushed for 102 yards, and Niemi added 88 yards on the ground to lead the Blackhawks offense, which compiled 292 yards of total offense. Niemi completed 3-of-4 passes for 52 yards. Sam Mueller completed 10-of-19 passes for 163 yards and two touchdowns for the Eagles, who finished runner-up in their first appearance in the championship game.
Day two of the 39th Annual WIAA State Football Finals produced champions in Divisions 3, 2 and 1 at Camp Randall Stadium in Madison, Wis.
Defending Division 2 champion Kimberly (14-0) jumped out to a 14-0 lead and went on to win their second straight State championship and its fourth overall title with a 31-6 win over last season’s Division 1 champion Arrowhead (10-4).
The Papermakers’ offense was unstoppable in the first half, scoring touchdowns on each of their four possessions in the first half. They opened the game with a 70-yard drive that ended with a 16-yard run by Blair Mulholland at 3:59. On their next possession, they drove 99 yards on 12 plays to take a 14-0 lead following a 20-yard pass from Austin Weyenberg to Jake Johnson.
Warhawks got on the board with a 27-yard connection from Johnny Duranso to Justin Peret at the 9:02 mark of the second quarter to cut the deficit to 14-6; however, the high-octane Papermaker offense drove 72 yards in its next possession on a Mulholland 5-yard run to extend their lead to 21-6.
Kimberly led 28-6 at the half with a Weyenberg touchdown run of three yards with 33 seconds left in the second quarter. The only scoring in the second half was a 23-yard field goal by Papermakers’ Adam Stage with 2:32 remaining in the third quarter.
The Papermakers dominated the game statistically, compiling 440 yards of total offense to Arrowhead’s 249. Kimberly rushed for 311 yards , including 152 and two touchdowns by Mulholland. Evan Dux ran for 115 yards on 12 carries. Weyenberg completed 8-of-9 passes for 129 yards and a touchdown. Johnson was on the receiving end of 67 of those yards of four grabs. Colin led the Papermakers defense with a team-high five tackles and an interception. Logan McCormick had four tackles, including a sack and the forced fumble.
The Warhawks rushed for 100 yards as a team, with Cody Sellhausen leading the Warhawks with with 88 yards on just five carries. Sixty-six of those yards came on a 61-yard run in the second half. Johnny Duranso completed 13-of-24 passes for 144 yards, a touchdown and an interception. Justin Peret had four receptions for a game-high 68 yards receiving with a touchdown. Andrew Hessler had a solid game defensively for the Warhawks with a game-high 13 tackles.
Two-time defending Division 1 champion Arrowhead finishes runner-up in its membership-leading 12th State final appearance.
Menasha won its first State championship in its first-ever appearance in the final with a 35-17 victory over Waukesha West in the Division 2 title tilt.
The Wolverines scored on the game’s opening drive on a 1-yard run by Peter MacCudden. The Bluejays quickly responded on its ensueing possession as Tyler Johnson scored on a 1-yard run to tie the game at 7-7. Wauksha West regained the lead with 3:25 remaining in the first quarter with another short run by MacCudden, which capped an 86-yard drive.
The Bluejays scored 14 unaswered points in the second quarter on a pair of big plays. Johnson scampered 39 yards to paydirt at 7:29 in the quarter. Johnson then connected with Kelvin Medrano on a 36-yard strike late in the quarter to give Menasha a 21-14 halftime advantage.
The only score in the third quarter came with a 28-yard field goal by Alec Durand to narrow the margin to 21-17 with 1:54 left in the quarter. The Bluejays’ defense came up big early in the fourth quarter. Dominic Seifert intercepted a Conor Blount pass, broke a tackle and raced 32 yards for a touchdown, giving Menasha a 28-17 cushion.
The Bluejays forced another Wolverines’ turnover on the ensueing drive to help lead to another touchdown. Three plays later, Johnson ran up the middle on a keeper to score from 14 yards out to give the Bluejays control of the game, 35-17, with 9:22 to play.
The Wolverines outgained the Bluejays in total offense 356-332, but two costly turnovers in the second half played a crucial role in the outcome.
Tyler Johnson rushed for a game-high 129 yards and three touchdowns and completed 7-of-9 passes for 107 yards and a score to lead the Bluejays offense. Matt Rohde added 13 rushes for 83 yards.
Waukesha West was led on offense by Conor Blount’s 257 yards passing, completing 15-of-26 throws and an interception. Jair Scott was the Wolverines’ leadin ruser with 72 yards. In addition to two touchdowns rushing, MacCudden was West’s leader on the other side of the ball. He made a game-high 11 tackles with a fumble forced and recovered.
The Wolverines (11-3) take home the runner-up trophy in their third State final appearance, winning State titles in their two previous appearances, a Divison 1 championship in 2010 and a Division 2 crown in 2004.
Wisconsin Lutheran (14-0) capped an undefeated season with a convincing 42-18 win over Rice Lake in the Division 3 State championship game.
Rice Lake (10-4) took the opening kickoff and drove 45 yards on 13 plays to set up a 29-yard field goal by Luke Fleming. The Vikings responded with a scoring drive on their opening possession to take a 7-3 lead on a 2-yard run by Austin DeNoyer.
The Warriors regained the lead in the second quarter on a 30-yard pass from Erik Hovde to Noah Pierce for a 10-7 advantage. The Vikings scored the next 27 points to take command of the game. Terrance Ward scored on a run from four yards out, and Anthony Carver caught a 5-yard toss from Logan McShane to give the Vikings a 20-10 lead at halftime.
Wisconsin Lutheran received the second half kickoff and proceeded to march 57 yards on 13 plays to open up a 26-10 advantage after a blocked extra point. After blocking Rice Lake’s attempted punt on its ensuing possession, Logan McShane scored on a 1-yard run, and DeNoyer dashed in from 13 yards with a successful two-point conversion to give the Vikings a 34-10 lead.
The Warriors scored early in the fourth quarter on a 1-yard quarterback keeper by Hovde and a two-point conversion to cut the deficit to 34-18 at 11:37 in the fourth quarter. The Vikings scored on its next drive to erase any thoughts of a Rice Lake comeback. Ward ran in from two yards to expand the Vikings lead to 42-18.
The Vikings outgained the Warriors 402-245 in total offense. Logan McShane led the Wisconisn Lutheran ground game with 138 yards. Ward added 68 yards and two touchdowns, and DeNoyer contributed 61 yards and two scores. McShane also completed 6-of-10 passes for 89 yards with a touchdown and an interception. Anthony Carver made a team-high 10 tackles on defense, including two for loss and a fumble recovery.
Isaiah Secrest rushed for 75 yards, and Erik Hovde complete 6-of-14 passes for 82 yards and a touchdown while running for another score to lead the Warriors offense.
It was the fourth State championship for Wisconsin Lutheran. The Vikings also captured crowns in 2004, 2005 and 2007. Rice Lake finishes as State runner-up in its fifth title game appearance.