MCDONALD'S SWNEWS4U.COM GAME OF THE WEEK (Aug. 20–27)
PREP FOOTBALL: Belmont 19, Elkhart Lake–Glenbuhlah 6
BELMONT — With a large home crowd on hand to see what 8-player football is all about, Belmont’s inaugural foray on the 8-player gridiron was a victorious one as the Braves defeated Elkhart Lake–Glenbulah 19–6 in the 2019 season opener at BHS on Thursday night.
Junior quarterback Riley Christensen threw for a touchdown and ran for another to lead the Braves (1–0 overall) on offense, and then added a score on defense to help sink the Resorters (0–1), who will host the Braves in a rematch In Elkhart Lake on Oct. 11.
“It was an exciting win for us,” said Belmont head coach Brandon Wiese. “It’s been fun reaching the (8-player) game and learning bits and pieces about it. We’re able to move some guys around, and I feel it allows us to have guys playing where they should have been playing in the past but couldn’t in 11-player. We’re excited for those guys to get out there and get the opportunity.”
One of the guys who was first to display some wrinkles allowed by the 8-player game was 260-pound senior offensive lineman Brady Wedig, who hauled in a 49-yard touchdown pass from Christensen on the Braves’ third play from scrimmage to put them ahead 6–0 just over a minute into the game.
“He was sure excited,” said Wiese.
Wedig, who was a second-team All-Conference selection on both the offensive and defensive lines for the Braves last season, finished as the team’s leading receiving after hauling in two catches for 67 yards.
Belmont was unable to find the end zone the rest of the half as their remaining drives ended with three punts, two lost fumbles and a missed field goal attempt.
The Resorters were held in check as well by a stout Braves’ defense until the closing seconds of the first half when quarterback Brady Hassinger connected with Kean O’Neal on an 19-yard scoring strike to even the score at 6–6.
The Braves blocked the PAT to keep the game tied heading into the intermission.
Christensen recovered a Resorter fumble on the second play of the second half to set the Braves up at the Elkhart Lake 31-yard line, and seven plays later the junior signal-caller raced in from nine yards out to put Belmont into the lead to stay at 12–6 with eight minutes to go in the third quarter.
Christensen returned an interception 20 yards for a TD less than four minutes later, and he also tacked on the extra point to extend the hosts’ lead to 19–6.
The Resorters turned the ball over on downs on their next three possessions and were stopped at the Belmont 2-yard line on the final play of the game as the Braves held on for a 19–6 victory.
“A win is a win, and we’ll take any win we can get at the beginning of the season. It’s the direction we want to go,” stated Wiese.
Christensen ran the ball 33 times for 150 yards and a score, and he completed 5-of-8 passes for 73 yards and another score for the Braves. Defensively, he registered six tackles with three solos and three for a loss to go along with his fumble recovery and interception for a TD.
“He’s our captain and our leader. He can throw and run the ball, so he’s quite a weapon for us,” said Wiese. “He’ll be a big-time player for us going forward this season.”.
Seniors Kolton Westemeier and Tristen Gilbertson added 11 tackles apiece for the Braves, while junior Will Cutler had nine stops and an interception and sophomore Waylon Palzkill added six tackles and a pick.
“Our interior defense was phenomenal,” said Wiese. “We have a lot of experience up front. Our DBs stepped up, too. It was a great effort.”
Hassinger completed 20-of-43 passes for 194 yards with one TD and three interceptions, and he ran 116 yards for 52 yards to lead the Resorters.
The Braves (1–0) travel to Oakfield on Thursday to face the Oaks (0–1) in a prep game beginning at 7 p.m. at the Oakfield Village Park. The Oaks fell to Wausau Newman Catholic 53–21 in their opener on Friday.
Belmont 19, Elkhart Lake–Glen. 6
(from Thursday, Aug. 22 @ Belmont)
Elkhart Lake-Glen. 0 6 0 0 — 6
Belmont 6 0 13 0 — 19
B: Brady Wedig 49 pass from Riley Christensen (kick failed)
ELG: O’Neal 19 pass from Hassinger (kick blocked)
B: Christensen 9 run (run failed)
B: Christensen 20 interception return (Christensen kick)
First downs — ELG 13, B 16. Rushing — ELG 21-39, B 51-161 . Passing (comp-att-int, yds) — ELG 20-43-3, 194; B 5-8-0, 73. Fumbles–lost — ELG 2-1, B 4-1. Penalties-yards — ELG 8-60, B 7-65.
Rushing — ELG: Brady Hassinger 16-52, B: Riley Christensen 33-150-1. Passing — ELG: Hassinger 20-43-2, 194; B: Christensen 5-8-0, 73. Receiving — ELG: Finn Shields 4-67; B: Brady Wedig 2-67. Tackles — B: Kolton Westemeier 11, Tristen Gilbertson 11, Will Cutler 9.