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MCDONALD'S GAME OF THE WEEK (WIAA D7 Level 1 football): Potosi/Cassville 15, River Ridge 14
Vogelsberg TD catch, Freiderick PAT with 26 seconds left lift Chieftains over T'wolves
Potosi/Cassville senior tight end Owen Vogelsberg caught this 4-yard TD pass with 26 seconds left, and sophomore Roman Friederick kicked the game-winning extra point, to lift the Chieftains to a 15–14 victory over River Ridge in a WIAA Division 7 Level 1 playoff victory last Friday night.

WIAA D7 FOOTBALL: Potosi/Cassville 15, River Ridge 14

By A.J. Gates, Herald Independent

PPATCH GROVE — With just three losses between the two teams, last Friday night’s WIAA Division 7 playoff opener between fourth-seeded River Ridge and fifth-seeded Potosi/Cassville had all the makings of a Level 3 playoff football game.

As expected, it took all 2,880 seconds to decide a winner in Friday night’s playoff opener, and in the end, coach Siegert’s Chieftains (9–1) survived with a 15–14 victory thanks to a 4-yard TD catch by senior Owen Vogelsberg and sophomore Roman Friederick’s ensuing extra point with 26 seconds left in the game.

The loss for River Ridge (7–3) was particularly tough to swallow, especially after leading the entire game, until Potosi/Cassville found the end zone late in the fourth quarter.

The host Timberwolves held the upper hand for the entire first half, and most of the third quarter, and started with a 46-yard TD pass from senior quarterback Logan Drone to junior wideout Braden Crubel. The extra-point kick by junior Jayden Barragan gave River Ridge an early 7–0 lead with 2:59 remaining in the opening quarter.

An interception by senior defensive back Ian Adrian set up River Ridge’s second score, coming with 1:41 to play in the first quarter. Drone got loose on a 35-yard TD run, and Barragan’s second extra-point kick, that extended the T-Wolves’ lead to 14–0.

Coach Siegert’s dangerous offense threatened just once in the entire first half, but came up short of the goal line on second-and-goal from the four-yard line in the final seconds before halftime.

“Everything happens for a reason, and maybe if we get that, then we don’t come out as focused in the second half,” said Siegert. “I didn’t feel like the wind was out of our sails. Sometimes you can feel that when you have those kinds of situations, but I honestly didn’t feel that at all.”

River Ridge’s 14–0 lead carried over into the fourth quarter, after the two teams played to a scoreless stalemate in the third, though Potosi/Cassville’s offense  appeared to be gaining some momentum.

With 4:21 to play in the third quarter, coach Siegert’s squad took possession of the ball at its own 40-yard line, and had marched down to River Ridge’s one before the third quarter came to an end.

On the first play of the fourth quarter, Friederick scored his team’s first touchdown of the game, capping off a 60-yard scoring drive with 11:58 to play in the contest.

What turned out to be a huge two-point conversion run, saw holder Raz Okey abandon the extra-point kick, and race to the right side across the goal line to pull his team within 14–8.

“I saw a little bit of a bobble. The snap came in a little bit low and then he bobbled it,” said Siegert. “Raz made a millisecond decision, took off and did a great job. Had that not happened, who knows?”

Both teams traded punts throughout the remainder of the fourth quarter, until Potosi/Cassville put together the game-winning drive starting at River Ridge’s 47-yard line with 2:16 left.

A nine-yard run by Groom, followed by a 12-yard run by Ashton Spitzack set Potosi/Cassville up with a 1st-and-10 at the 26-yard line with 1:44 to play in the game.

A pass from Groom to Eli Adams set up a first-and-goal from the eight-yard line with just 1:07 to play.

A bootleg keeper by Groom put Potosi/Cassville at the 4-yard line with 50 seconds to play, followed by a run up the middle for no gain that left it 3rd-and-goal from the four with 29.8 seconds remaining.

Taking his final timeout, coach Siegert and his coaching staff decided on a play that would either end, or extend, his team’s season.

“When we’re down in the two-point conversion area, we have a list of plays that we like to run in those situations,” explained Siegert. “Coach (Tony) Leibfried does a great job and he dialed up the right one.

“It’s all like a blur at the time. You’re just in that fog when everything is happening and you’re just hoping that you do the right thing and don’t make the wrong call at the wrong time.” 

With Groom rolling out to his right under the protection of Friederick in the backfield, tight end Owen Vogelsberg slipped out on an out route along the goal line. Groom let the ball fly under pressure from River Ridge’s Andrew Nies, right into the arms of Vogelsberg, who then fell into the end zone for the game-tying touchdown.

Still needing the extra-point kick to break the 14-14 tie, Okey received the snap cleanly, put it down, and Friederick split the uprights to give his team a 15-14 lead with just 26 seconds showing on the clock.

The game came to an end with an interception by Spitzack on a desperation throw by Drone in the final seconds, leaving the Timberwolves stunned by the sudden turn of events late in the contest.

“We knew it was going to be a tough one, but we thought there were some things we could do against them from the first time we played them,” said coach Winkers. “May be those things didn’t come to fruition. We did have some scores, but we didn’t get some things going that we thought we could.”

“Both teams played really good defense, but they got a few more first downs than we did in the second half to keep their drives going, and we couldn’t get any to keep the ball out of their hands,” Winkers added.

Finishing with 179 yards of total offense, the Timberwolves got a team-high 61 yards rushing from senior fullback Owen Hamilton on 15 carries. Drone rushed for 39 yards and one touchdown on six attempts, while completing 4-of-11 passing attempts for 70 yards, one touchdown and two interceptions.

Braden Crubel had the one catch for a 46-yard score, while Hamilton had one reception for 14 yards and Ian Adrian two receptions for 10.

“They’re really strong defensively, especially on the interior with their D-tackles and inside linebackers,” Winkers said of the Chieftains. “They put a lot of people in the box, and we didn’t have enough team speed to get to the edge on them, and we didn’t make some passes when we needed to. They’re a really good physical team and well coached.”

Leading the Potosi/Cassville defense with 20 tackles each were Spitzack and Vogelsberg, while Groom had 13. Spitzack and Cody Klein each had one interception, while Brad Perry had the team’s only sack.

Coach Siegert’s offensive unit concluded the contest with 270 yards of total offense, getting 85 yards rushing from Spitzack on 18 carries, followed by 56 yards rushing from Friederick on 14.

Groom completed 11-of-17 passing attempts for 144 yards, one touchdown and one interception, and was a perfect 5-for-5 in the second half.

Vogelsberg led all receivers with four receptions for 52 yards, followed by Adams who had two catches for 49, while Spitzack had four catches for 36 yards and Robby Roe one catch for seven yards.

“Typically, with football in general, if teams take away something, you have to give up something too,” explained coach Siegert, who found success in the second half with the counter play, against River Ridge’s aggressive defense.

“We didn’t do a whole lot of changing up front in terms of our blocking schemes, it was just about finding out what play was going to work at what time,” Siegert added.

Leading the River Ridge defense with 14 total tackles was Hamilton, while Drone was in on 10 stops, followed by David Nies and Brody Kielley with eight each.

“We played great defense in the first half, and in the second half we kept talking about getting that third score,” Winkers said. “We just couldn’t get anything going in the second half and couldn’t change the field position.”

While River Ridge concludes the 2021 season with an overall record of 7-3, coach Siegert and the Chieftains (9-1) advance to level 2, where they will take the field against the top seeded Cardinals of Highland (10-0), who are riding an 18-game winning streak.

The champions of the Ridge & Valley conference haven’t lost a game since their level two meeting with Potosi/Cassville back in 2019. Since then, they have beaten the Chieftains twice in 2020, 32-27, on Oct. 16, and 19-13, in the second week of a two-week playoff schedule.

WIAA Division 7 Level I playoff
Potosi/Cassville 15, River Ridge 14
(from Friday, Oct. 22 @ Patch Grove)
5) Potosi/Cassville......0  0  0 15 — 15
4) River Ridge.............14  0  0  0 — 14
First quarter
RR: Braden Crubel 46 pass from Logan Drone (Barragan kick), 2:59
RR: Owen Hamilton 35 run (Barragan kick), 1:41
Fourth quarter
P/C: Roman Friederick 1 run (Raz Okey run), 11:58
P/C: Owen Vogelsberg 4 pass from Levi Groom (Friederick kick), 0:26
Team statistics
First downs — P/C 16, RR 8. Rushing – P/C 47-126, RR 30-109. Passing (comp-att-int, yards) — P/C 11-17-1, 144; RR 4-11-2, 70. Fumbles–lost  P/C 1-0, RR 0-0. Penalties-yards  P/C 4-32, RR 0-0. 
Individual Leaders
Rushing — P/C: Ashton Spitzack 18-85, Roman Friderick 14-59; RR: Owen Hamilton 15-61, Logan Drone 6-39. Passing — P/C: Levi Groom 11-17-1, 144; RR: Logan Drone 4-11-2, 70. Receiving — P/C: Owen Vogelsberg 4-52, Spitzack 4-36, Eli Adams 2-49; RR: Braden Crubel 1-46. Tackles — P/C: Owen Vogelsberg 20, Ashton Spitzack 20, Levi Groom 13.