MCDONALD'S SWNEWS4U.COM GAME OF THE WEEK (Aug. 17–24)
PREP FOOTBALL: Fennimore 30, Iowa–Grant 12
By Jason Nihles, Fennimore Times / The Platteville Journal
NEW FENNIMORE COACH TYRELL ROSEMEYER IS A WINNER IN HIS DEBUT
LIVINGSTON — The 2022 prep football season got off to an earlier-than-expected start for Fennimore and host Iowa–Grant Friday night.
The start time of the 52nd Milk Can Game between the neighboring rivals was moved up to 6 p.m. to beat the impending thunderstorms that were expected to reach the area around 8 p.m. Players and coaches of both schools were notified around 3 p.m.
The Golden Eagles hopped on a bus made the quick 16-mile drive to Iowa–Grant High School and kicked off the season in style.
Fennimore scored twice in the opening quarter and went on to post a 30–12 non-conference victory in new coach Tyrell Rosemeyer’s head coaching debut. Rosemeyer spent the last two seasons as the defensive coordinator at Mount Horeb, and seven years prior to that at Middleton, where he was the defensive line coach for four seasons. Fennimore’s defense forced three turnovers and played a key role in Friday’s victory.
“If we do our first jobs we do not give up any points,” said Rosemeyer who spent one season as a preferred walk-on at Wisconsin after leading Fennimore two a pair of conference titles and four straight trips to the WIAA semifinals. “We still have lots to improve on, but overall we tackled well and we were aligned right the majority of the time, which are two huge components on the defensive side of the ball. We will continue to get better.
“Obviously happy to get win number one out of the way, but we have bigger goals than one win. I am expecting winning to become the norm for Fennimore football.”
The Eagles got on the board just over a minute in the game when sophomore quarterback Tristan Steldt hit classmate Ethan Sheckler on a short pass in the flat which turned into a 36-yard touchdown just 66 seconds into the season. Steldt then hit Nathan Blaschke for the two-point conversion and an 8–0 lead.
Junior Ian Crapp scored on a 15-yard run off left tackle with 1:21 left in the opening quarter to make it 14–0.
The new-look Iowa–Grant offense, which is now running an option offense with junior quarterback Cyle Steffl, responded with a scoring drive of its own. Steffl scored on a 1-yard kepper, but the conversion pass fell incomplete and Fennimore still led by eight at 14–8.
The visiting Eagles added to their lead late in the first half when Steldt scored on an five-yard run. Steldt then connected with classmate Amryn Nutter to make it a 22–8 margin heading into halftime.
Iowa–Grant recovered a fumble in Fennimore territory midway through the third quarter to get back in the game. One play after Steffl was briefly forced out of the game with a minor injury, sophomore Gavin Hinderman came on to score a 1-yard quarterback sneak with 1:14 left in the third quarter to make it 22–12.
But the Eagles put the game out of reach when Max Miles recovered his own fumble in the end zone. Steldt hit Nutter on the 2-point conversion pass to provide the final margin of victory at 30–12. The key play on the drive was a 31-yard pass down the left sideline from Steldt to Blaschke.
Crapp rushed for a team-high 70 yards and a touchdown on 10 carries to lead the Eagles, and Steldt completed 9 of 17 passes for 159 yards, and ran and threw for scores in his first varsity start at QB. Wyatt Ahnen had six tackles and two sacks to lead the Fennimore defense.
“We had lots of mental mistakes and we were sloppy with our unforced turnovers,” said Rosemeyer. “We did not nearly play up to our full potential. But on the positive side, as a great coach once said, ‘a win is a win is a win.’ We came out and played with passion and intensity. “
“Our Offense was about a C-plus, with our offensive line grading out at an A-minus. Our offensive line has grown more in the last three weeks than any other position group. They are turning into a dominant group and we expect them to continue to get better each week. They understand their roles and they do their roles well. I am really proud of our line coaches Mitch Jahnke, Jason Miles and Devon O’Brien.”
Steffl completed 7 of 14 passes for 96 yards and rushed for a team-high 50 yards to lead the IG offense. Sophomore Boden Brokopp caught four passes for 81 yards and junior wingback Ashton Schmitz rushed for 36 yards on nine carries.
“For the first game, I was relatively happy with our offensive performance,” said IG head coach Zachary Raimer. ‘We had over 100 yards on the ground and had some great success through the air. Our self-inflicted mistakes, such as our turnovers, are what really hurt us. Our players know what mistakes we made and that we can not have those costly turnovers on offense if we want to win future games. They know what needs to be done and we have a plan to fix our mistakes.”
Fennimore has now won six straight Milk Can games dating back to a 13–6 win in 2016. The rivalry was briefly interrupted two years ago when the Panthers played the COVID-shortened 2020 season in the combined one-year-only Ridge and Valley/Six Rivers Conference.
The Milk Can Game tradition, which began in 1970 with a 28–0 Fennimore win, resumed last year as a non-conference game when the Eagles open the 2021 season with a 47–0 season-opening win. IG played last year in the Six Rivers Conference and has moved to the Ridge and Valley for this year.
The Panthers, who won seven straight Milk Can Games 2009–15, still hold a 33–19 edge in the series.
Iowa–Grant will travel to New Lisbon (1–0) Friday for another non-conference game before hosting former SWAL rival Boscobel in the Ridge and Valley Conference opener for both teams on Sept. 2. The Rockets are coming off a 36–12 win at Hillsboro.
Fennimore will host Richland Center (0–1) Friday at 7 p.m. The Hornets were blanked by Westby, 41–0, in Week 1.
Fennimore 30, Iowa–Grant 12
(from Friday, Aug. 19 @ Iowa–Grant)
Fennimore......14 8 0 8 — 30
Iowa–Grant.......0 6 6 0 — 12
F: Ethan Sheckler 36 pass from Tristan Steldt (Nathan Blaschke pass from Steldt), 10:54
F: Ian Crapp 15 run (pass failed), 1:21
IG: Cyle Steffl 1 run (pass failed), 9:12
F: Steldt 5 run (Amyrn Nutter pass from Steldt), 2:19
IG: Gavin Hinderman 1 run (pass failed), 1:14
F: Max Miles fumble recovery in the end zone (Nutter pass from Steldt), 2:17.
First downs — F 11, IG 11. Rushing – F 28-84, IG: 42-115. Passing (comp-att-int, yards) — F 9-17-0, 159; IG: 7-14-0, 96. Fumbles-lost – F 3-2, IG 3-3. Penalties-yards — F: 3-20, IG 4-15.
Rushing — F: Ian Crapp 10-70; IG: Cyle Steffl 22-50, Ashton Schmitz 9-36, Connor Dowell 10-27. Passing — F: Tristan Steldt 9-17-0, 159; IG: Cyle Steffl 7-14-0, 96. Receiving — F: Amryn Nutter 3-69, Ethan Sheckler 1-36; IG: Boden Brokopp 4-81. Tackles — F: Wyatt Ahnen 6, Drew Crubel 6, Syler Zdanczewicz 6; IG: Alex Sedbrook 9, Gavin Hinderman 6, Lucas Christiansen 6.