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Explosive Eagles end Tigers season
Heit rushes for 183 yards, four TDs to lead Pepin/Alma
joe helgerson fights for yards
Hillsboro's Joe Helgerson (6) tries to gain ground while stepping over teammate Tyler Crandall (9) and a Pepin/Alma defender Oct. 31 during the Tigers 47-20 loss to the host Eagles. - photo by Angie Nachtigal photo

PEPIN — Pepin/Alma junior Trevor Heit was an unstoppable force in Friday’s WIAA Division 7 Level 2 playoff game.

Just five minutes into the contest Heit took a handoff and raced 68 yards for the first of his four scores to ignite the undefeated Eagles’ 47–20 victory over fourth-seeded Hillsboro.

Heit finished the game with 183 yards and four scores on just 14 carries in the win.

Senior quarterback Sam Mueller completed 8 of 10 passes for 208 yards and a pair of touchdowns to complement Heit’s rushing performance and lead the Eagles’ balanced Wing-T attack.

Pepin/Alma (11–0) advances to face top-seeded and fellow unbeaten Bangor (11–0), which knocked off New Lisbon 52–20, also on Friday night.

Hillsboro finishes the season 7–4 overall.

“Pepin/Alma was very athletic and made big plays,” said Hillsboro head coach Eric Auel. “ I thought we were better than them up front, but their receivers, backs, and quarterbacks were the best balanced group we’ve seen this year.

“[Heit] is quick, elusive, and able to change direction and speed without losing a beat. He is one of the better running backs I have seen in several years. Once he made it to the second level, he was difficult to tackle.”

Mueller tossed a 46-yard touchdown pass to senior tight end Randall Engstrand 1:49 into the second quarter to make it 13–0.

Hillsboro hung tough and junior Tyler Crandall pulled the Tigers within seven points at 13–7 with 1:37 left in the half.
But a good kickoff return gave Pepin/Alma great field position and just 34 seconds later the Eagles Mueller hit junior end Ronnie Engstrand for a 9-yard TD. The two-point conversion pass made it 21–7 at halftime.

Pepin/Alma added to its lead early in the third quarter when Heit scored from 18 yards out.

After a change of possession Caiden Haake broke loose for a 72-yard TD run and Jacob Riesgraf’s PAT made it 34–6 with 2:45 left in the third quarter.

Two minutes later Heit scored his third touchdown of the night on an 11-yard run.

Hillsboro cut into the lead with a 1-yard TD run but senior fullback Warren Paulson, but Heit delivered the knockout blow just four minutes later with a 10-yard run.

His final score of the night made it 47–14.

Hillsboro tacked on a late TD on junior Joey Helgerson’s 13-yard run to account for the final score.

“They were very balanced, threw the ball well and made big plays in the open field,” said Auel. “We failed to get pressure on the QB and their receivers were tall, fast, and great playmakers. Defensively they were excellent tacklers and very aggressive up front.”

Junior Tommy Crandall rushed for a team-high 86 yards on 12 carries to lead Hillsboro in defeat. Senior quarterback Matt Stekel completed 7 of 14 passes for 67 yards and was intercepted twice. Junior Max Stockwell caught three passes for 41 yards.

Junior Ethan Thorson led the Tigers’ defense with seven tackles. Tommy Crandall was in on six stops.

“This year’s team demonstrated a great deal of growth and the young men on the team got better every week,” said Auel. “We experienced some adversity midway through the season but the team kept their minds steady and were able to rebound and make strides.  While we didn’t have a lot of numbers out of our senior class, they were all contributors and will miss them next year.”