POTOSI — It turns out Potosi wasn’t in a sharing mood when it came to the league crown.
The Chieftains locked up sole possession of the 2014 Six Rivers Conference championship title by beating Belmont, 26–16, in the season finale at PHS on Friday.
Belmont could have forced a three-way tie for the Six Rivers crown along with Potosi and Black Hawk with a win on Friday night. However, the loss dropped the Braves (6–3 overall, 5–3 Six Rivers) into a tie for third-place with Pecatonica/Argyle, which was upset by River Ridge, 26–8, in its finale.
Potosi (8–1, 7–1) won the title outright, while Black Hawk (6–2) finished alone in second-place in the final standings after crushing Highland, 54–0, on Friday.
“It was a goal that the kids set out for this year, and it’s always nice when their hard work pays off,” said Potosi coach Mark Siegert. “It was important to them to get a piece of the conference championship, and to have it outright is even better.”
Belmont pulled into the lead near the end of the first quarter when junior quarterback Jon Bahr teamed with Quinn Cushman for the first of their two scoring strikes. The duo’s 4-yard connection put the Braves on the scoreboard with 29 seconds remaining in the period, and Bahr ran in the conversion to put them ahead 8–0.
The Chieftains cut the deficit to 8–6 midway through the second quarter when running back Teagan Friedrick scored the first of his three 4-yard touchdown runs, and then overtook the Braves on Kyle Kaiser’s 20-yard TD pass to Riley Hawes with 32 seconds to play in the half.
Friederick’s second 4-yard score and two-point conversion run extended Potosi’s lead to 20–8 heading into the fourth quarter, but a 40-yard hook-up between Bahr and Cushman in the opening minute of the fourth quarter closed the gap to 20–14.
Friederick’s third TD run of the night put the Chieftains ahead 26–16 with 5:29 remaining, and the Braves could get no closer as Potosi captured the crown with a 10-point victory.
“The boys played a good game,” said Belmont head coach Jason Weittenhiller. “It came down to our tackling again. We had a lot of drives where we had the ball carrier wrapped up and he would break out of the tackle and run for a first down. Against good teams like Potosi, you can’t give them second and third chances.”
The two teams were fairly even in the stat book for the night with the Chieftains holding a slight edge through the air, 107–103, and on the ground, 167–112, to outgain the Braves for the game, 274–215.
Bahr completed 9-of-18 passes for 103 yards with two touchdowns and an interception, and he added 49 rushing yards on 12 carries to guide the Braves’ offense. Senior running back Mitch Ray led the team with 61 yards on 16 carries, and Cushman, a junior, caught five passes for 91 yards and two scores.
Defensively, senior linebacker Tucker Wedig registered 10 solo tackles and three assists to lead the Braves. Ray and Cushman each tallied six tackles, while Raine Voigts and Nick Willborn added five apiece.
Friederick paced the Chieftains with 80 yards on 18 carries with three scores. Kaiser went 6-of-10 passing for 107 yards and a score with Hawes making three catches for 32 yards.
Kaiser sustained a sprained foot in the first quarter of Friday night’s contest, but is expected to play in Potosi’s first-round playoff game this Friday night. It is unsure though whether or not senior linebacker, Dan Nusbaum, the team’s leading tackler, will be playing Friday night, due to knee issues, which he had surgery on prior to the football season.
The Chieftains earned the No. 2 seed in their WIAA Division 7 playoff bracket and will host Williams Bay (5–4) this Friday night.
The winner of that game will move on to play either Burlington Catholic Central (7–2) or Shullsburg (6–3) in the second round. The top seed in the bracket belongs to undefeated Ithaca (9–0).
Belmont received the fifth-seed in its WIAA Division 7 playoff bracket, and will get a rematch against defending state champion Black Hawk at Murphy Field in South Wayne on Friday, beginning at 7 p.m.
The two teams met just two weeks ago on that same field with the Warriors coming out on top by a score of 42–20 after scoring 22 unanswered points in the fourth quarter to put away the Braves.
Senior fullback Shawn Woodruff went off for 378 yards on 31 carries and scored four touchdowns for the Warriors in that week eight meeting, and containing the state’s leading rusher in all of Division 7 will be the Braves’ top priority this Friday.
Potosi 26, Belmont 16
(from Friday, Oct. 17 @ Potosi)
Belmont 8 0 0 8 — 16
Potosi 0 12 8 6 — 26
B: Quinn Cushman 4 pass from Jon Bahr (Bahr run)
P: Teagan Friederick 4 run (run failed)
P: Riley Hawes 20 pass from Kyle Kaiser (run faile)
P: T. Friederick 4 run (T. Friederick run)
B: Cushman 40 pass from Bahr (Bahr run)
P: T. Friederick 4 run (run failed)
First downs — B 10, P 15. Rushing — B 34-112, P 43-167. Passing yards: B 103, P 107. Passing — B 9-18-1, P 6-10-0. Fumbles-lost — B 3-3, P 3-3. Penalties-yards — B 4-15, P 8-79.
Rushing — B: Mitch Ray 17-69; P: Teagan Friederick 18-80. Passing — B: Jon Bahr 9-18-1, 103; P: Kyle Kaiser 6-10-0, 107. Receiving — B: Quinn Cushman 6-95; P: Riley Hawes 3-32.