An aging basketball coach from Iowa once explained that every team loses their last game of the season, except the state champions. So it was for the Seneca football team in Camp Randall last Tuesday. The Indians post-season run ended with a 40-0 loss to Greenwood-Granton in the WIAA Division 7 Championship Game.
It started quickly for Greenwood-Granton, also known as 2-G to their fans. After stopping Seneca in three downs following the kickoff, Greenwood-Granton received Seneca’s punt and two plays later used a 52-yard run by senior quarterback Josh Harlander to score their first touchdown.
It was essentially the same type of scoring play that would repeat itself four more times in the game. Harlander broke free running through the middle of the defense from the right side of the formation and then put it into high gear as he cruised into the left side of the end zone.
As would be the case on the next four Greenwood-Granton touchdowns, they were successful in the two-point conversion, when Harlander threw a pass to wing back Westin Wuethrich.
Greenwood-Granton scored two more touchdowns in the second quarter on runs of 47 and 32 yards by full back Hayden Hinker. With two more successful two-point conversions, the score was 24-0 at halftime.
The second half brought more of the same. Shortly after receiving the Seneca kickoff, Greenwood-Granton quarterback Josh Harlander scored on 44-yard scamper into the end zone. Three minutes later, it was Wuethrich’s turn to score the final touchdown, when he broke free for a 79-yard touchdown run. With the two-point conversions, the score was 40-0.
For the game, Greenwood-Granton had 399 yards rushing on 38 attempts. However, 254 of those yards came on the five breakaway touchdown runs. The shortest was 32 yards and the longest was 79 yards.
Seneca gained 121 yards on 38 rushing attempts, as well as nine yards passing as quarterback Trenton Payne completed two of six attempts.
Seneca’s senior running back John Alanis, playing in his last game, gained just 87 yards on 24 carries for a 3.6 yard average. Those numbers are far below his usual output this season. In fact, it was the first game this season that Alanis was held under 100 yards and didn’t score a touchdown.
For the season, John Alanis, the Adrian Peterson of the Ridge and Valley Conference, gained 2,972 yards on a state-record 476 attempts. Alanis’ total yards gained is second in state high school history for total yards gained in a single season. The only player to gain more yards rushing in a single season was Kenosha St. Joe’s Adrian Davis, who ran for 3,422 yards in the 2001 season.
However, last Thursday, the powerful running back had reached the end of the line. Seneca coach Steve Kramer said Alanis was playing at about 50 percent for the game. Suffering from two severely sprained ankles with both legs heavily taped, Alanis was unable to make the cuts he had made throughout the season, according to Kramer.
“He was all guts and heart out there,” Kramer said of Alanis’ performance in the championship game, where one safety was assigned to him on every play. “He did the best he could.”
As he has all season, Alanis also played well on defense making twice as many tackles as anyone else. Kramer believes Alanis may actually be a better player defensively than he is offensively.
“John Alanis has very special skill set and he’s a very good team player,” Kramer said. “He’s the face of our program. He handled the interviews perfectly. He’s exactly the kid you want for the face of your program.”
“We’ve benefited from having a whole week to prepare in the post-season,” Kramer noted. “It gave us time to get healthy.” Thursday’s championship game came on just five days rest.
The coach declined to speculate on what would’ve happened in the championship game, if Alanis had been healthy.
Another major factor in the game was numbers. The combined enrollment of the Greenwood-Granton co-op team is 171, while Seneca’s enrollment is 90. Seneca had 22 players in uniform for the game and Greenwood-Granton had 43.
Kramer wasn’t making excuses though. He readily acknowledged Greenwood-Granton was the better team last Thursday in Camp Randall.
“They totally outplayed us,” Kramer said later. He blamed breakdowns defensively, combined with the Greenwood-Granton speed as Seneca’s downfall in the championship game.
Running back John Alanis shared his coach’s view of the game.
“It was a pretty disappointing end to a great season,” Alanis told the Wisconsin State Journal after the game. “They were a good team. I wasn’t 100 percent today, and that was pretty obvious. They were better today.”
Despite the loss, Kramer was upbeat about the championship game and the season that led to it.
“It was awesome to be at state,” Kramer said. “It was such a great experience to be down there. It was great for the team and the whole community.
“For us to get to state, every player had to play the best they could,” Kramer said. “Lots of kids had huge years. John carried us in the first half (of the season) and then other players stepped up. It was a special season the way it ended playing at state–going to state made history for Seneca. It was special for the school, but it was special for the community as well. I’m proud of what the kids accomplished. It was a great experience for everyone. It was awesome.”
For the game, Seneca’s Jordan Boone had nine carries for 24 yards, quarterback Trenton Payne had four carries for nine yards and running back Ryan Konichek had one carry for one yard. Wide receiver Jon Manning caught one pass for five yards and Ethan Grimsled caught the other pass for four yards.