SENECA-WAUZEKA-STEUBEN - It’s why they play the game on Friday nights in October in Wisconsin. You won’t often see a high school football game as good as the one played on balmy fall night in Wauzeka last Friday. It had it all—two evenly matched teams playing at the top of their game.
Seneca-Wauzeka-Steuben and DeSoto played an extremely hard game and when it was over the Blue-Golds had defeated the Pirates 16-0. It was the first post-season victory for the SWS co-op team, but it was close.
How Close? Well, it was a scoreless tie until the final seconds of the first half, when Blue-Golds receiver Nick Benish caught a six-yard pass from Jared Payne in the end zone. With the extra point, SWS had a 7-0 lead with just 11 seconds to go in the half.
The third quarter remained scoreless despite a drive by DeSoto to the SWS seven-yard line. The Blue-Golds held the Pirates on fourth down and took over on downs.
Late in the third quarter DeSoto restarted their offense with some completed passes. When the fourth quarter started, the Pirates had the ball first and ten on the SWS 20-yard line.
However, a series of the penalties and sacks drove DeSoto steadily backwards. At one point, it was second down and 45 yards to go form their own 45-yard line.
A sack of DeSoto quarterback Evan Overby by SWS’s defensive end Carter Lomas and defensive lineman Orion Starkey at the Pirate 33-yard line may have been the first nail in the coffin. DeSoto punted from their own 33-yard line facing fourth and 57.
Noah Allen had a nice runback of the punt. Then, he had a nice run from the halfback position.
Shortly, SWS was in the red zone threatening to score. When the drive stalled on the three-yard line, following an incomplete pass in the end zone to SWS receiver Nick Benish, the Blue-Golds opted for a field goal. They made it with just 4:45 left in the game to make it 10-0. It was another nail in the coffin.
DeSoto took the kickoff, but stalled on their own 46-yard line where they faced fourth and ten with just 3:22 left to play. Failing to get the first down, the ball went over to the Blue-Golds on downs-that’s right one more nail in the coffin.
As SWS ate up time, the Pirates tried to strip the ball from the running backs, but could not get the ball.
Finally facing fourth down with 15 yards to go on the DeSoto 30-yard line, SWS quarterback Jared Payne threw to receiver Braden Folbrecht who beat his receiver to the ball and ran it in for the touchdown. And, that was the final nail in the coffin. SWS led DeSoto 16-0 when the extra point failed, but it didn’t matter, this game was over.
“Both teams played very solid defense,” SWS head coach Justin Goodrich said later in what might be the understatement of the season.
Get this, the Pirates carried the ball 31 times for a net gain of 17 yards—that’s a half-yard per carry. They did gain 112 yards passing on 6-19 with two interceptions.
The Blue-Golds did a little better, gaining 104 yards on 42 carries and throwing 5-11 for 69 yards with no interceptions. It was well-played defense on both sides and coach Goodrich agreed.
“We were able to put a lot of pressure on (Pirate quarterback) Evan Overby and we came up with two interceptions,” Goodrich said. “I thought our defensive line did a very nice job of controlling the line of scrimmage and coming up with crucial sacks.”
With two solid defenses, it came down to who could put some scores on the board and this night it was SWS.
“Our offense was able to move the ball, but penalties took us out of good field position,” Goodrich explained. “We were able to overcome some of the penalties and put points on the board when we were in the red zone.”
For the game, SWS had eight penalties for 80 yards and DeSoto was penalized 8 times for 60 yards.
The Pirates had eight first downs and the Blue-Golds had 10. The only turnovers were the tow interceptions DeSoto gave up.
Desoto’s Dylan Chapes led his team in pass receptions catching two for 62 yards, while Isaiah Kunert caught one for 37 yards. SWS receiver Folbrecht led his team in pass receptions with tow for 42 yards and a touchdown.
It should be noted that both touchdowns came off passes by Payne, who 5-11 for 69 yards.
“This win was a great team effort,” Goodrich acknowledged. “I would like to thank all of our fans for all their support. The attendance for this game was amazing.”
Things won’t get a whole lot easier for the Blue-Golds (9-1) this Friday, Oct. 27 when they go on the road to face Cassville-Potosi (8-1).