MADISON – A lot of tears were shed by players and fans alike, after the Potosi Chieftains had just lost last Thursday’s WIAA Division 7 state football championship game to Glenwood City.
Yet, amongst all the tears, the hugs, and the sobbing faces, stood head coach Mark Siegert, who managed to crack a smile and keep a strong façade for his players after a heartbreaking loss.
But it wasn’t a façade at all. Siegert’s smile was as genuine as could be, and the look on his face was one of pure pride. Pride for his team, pride for his school, and pride for his community.
“I said to myself, that if I ever walk off this field without a smile on my face with a silver ball, then somebody really needs to kick me hard in the butt,” Siegert said standing in Camp Randall Stadium after a 46-21 loss.
“We have developed a really good program here, and these kids have got a lot to be proud of. Silver, gold, it’s all good when you get to state football, I think,” Siegert added.
The Chieftains do have a lot to be proud of. The list includes a Six Rivers conference title, a first-ever appearance in a state semifinal football game, an overall record of 12-1, and don’t forget about that big shiny silver state trophy.
The chances of Potosi taking home the gold ball appeared pretty good after one half of play, in which the Chieftains held a 14-12 lead over the Hilltoppers.
Things then tilted heavily in favor of Glenwood City in the second half, as they outscored the Chieftains 34-7, and held Potosi to a mere 12 yards rushing in the final 24 minutes of action.
Both teams opened the D7 state championship game by scoring on their first possession.
Glenwood City capped off a 14-play, 69-yard drive with a two-yard touchdown run, but missed the extra-point kick.
The Chieftains followed up with an eight-play scoring drive that covered 45 yards, and ended with a two-yard touchdown plunge by senior quarterback Tim Fritz.
Potosi’s extra-point kick also failed, leaving the score knotted at 6-6 with 3:06 to play in the opening quarter.
Coach Siegert’s Chieftains took a 14-6 lead with 4:11 to play in the second quarter, when senior fullback Alex Wright scampered 33 yards to the end zone, capping off a one-play scoring drive.
A two-point conversion run by Wright gave the Chieftains a 14-6 lead.
On their very next possession though, Glenwood City answered with a touchdown of their own, going 63 yards in six plays and scoring on an eight-yard run.
The Hilltopper’s two-point conversion run came up short, leaving the score 14-12 with 2:22 to play in the first half.
Potosi was unable to add to their lead before going into the locker room, but they had to feel good about their efforts in the first half.
The Chieftains had rushed for 114 yards on 15 attempts, while Fritz completed 4-of-10 passing attempts for 35 more, leaving Potosi with 149 yards of total offense in the first half.
The Hilltoppers had rushed for 140 yards, and thrown for 35, giving them 175 yards of total offense in the first half.
The second half though, would be a completely different story.
The Chieftains, who pride themselves on rushing the ball, managed just 12 yards on the ground in the entire second half.
Through the air, Potosi managed 124 yards in the second half, including a nine-yard TD pass from Fritz to Mitchell Langkamp early in the fourth quarter.
That was Potosi’s only score in the second half, while Glenwood City put up 22 points in the third quarter and 12 more in the fourth to claim a 46-21 victory.
Glenwood City scored touchdowns on its first three possessions of the second half, and it was early in the third quarter when Siegert could sense the game was getting away from them.
After the Hilltoppers had taken an 18-14 lead with 7:20 to play in the third quarter, Siegert elected to try a fake punt on a fourth-and-nine from his own 33-yard line.
The run by Alex Wright came up one yard short, giving Glenwood City great field position on the Chieftain’s 41-yard line.
“We came up a yard short, and that was a point in the game where I thought we had to answer them, and we had to answer them now,” Siegert explained.
The Hilltoppers used seven plays to cover the distance and take a 26-14 lead with 2:55 to play in the third quarter, and from there they cruised to a 25-point victory.
When asked what the difference in the two halves was, coach Siegert struggled to find an answer.
“I wish I could tell you the answer to that,” Siegert said. “I don’t know, I’m not sure. Over the last few games that I’ve seen them on film, this is kind of typical to what they’ve done.”
“They’ve had close games at the half, and they’ve really just kept doing their thing, and eventually they just grind a team down, and that’s what they did to us.”
“We did have a great game plan coming in, it was just a matter of them physically wearing us down a little bit,” Siegert added. “They’re bigger than us, we were used to that, but I couldn’t be more proud of them.”
While the Chieftains finished with 126 yards rushing on 22 attempts, the Hilltoppers rushed for 465 yards on 72 attempts, setting a Division 7 record for most yards rushing in a state championship game.
“It’s just option football, it’s just collapsing a side and it’s just reading,” Siegert said of Glenwood City’s offense. “We’ve seen it before. It’s not about the X’s and O’s part of it, it’s about the match ups in front of us, and we weren’t winning those match ups.”
“We know how to stop that, we just have to beat that person in front of us collectively with 11 guys, and we were losing more battles than we were winning with those 11 guys,” Siegert added.
“I tell the guys all the time, if you’re going to get beat, make sure you get beat by a better team. We did that, I think we got beat by a better team tonight,” said Siegert honestly.
“If we play this game a bunch of times, they probably win more than they lose. So hats off to Glenwood City, but our kids have nothing to be ashamed of. This is a great group of young men, and I’m really proud of them.”
Finishing with a team-high 64 yards rushing on eight carries was Alex Wright, while Tim Fritz added 33 yards rushing on three carries. Jase Udelhofen finished with 27 yards on 10 carries, while Spencer Hawes had one carry for two yards.
Through the air, Fritz completed 12-of-25 passing attempts for 147 yards, one touchdown and one interception.
Mitch Langkamp had five receptions for 88 yards, including a nine-yard TD, to lead all receivers.
Chase Kruser had two catches for 23 yards, while Hunter Leibfried had two for 20, and Alex Wright one for 14.
Potosi’s leading tackler was Travis Collins, who finished with 13 tackles, including one for a loss. Spencer Hawes had 12 stops, while Keegan Brown had 11 and Tyler Udelhoven 10.
After the trophies had been awarded and the photos had been taken, coach Siegert gathered his team for one last pep talk, and specifically addressed a senior class that will be remembered for years to come.
“This is a great group of young men,” Siegert said. “I told them that there’s only one thing I’m upset about, and that’s the fact that when we take the field next fall, we won’t have those 14 seniors with us. And that’s the only thing.”
“These guys have been a tremendous group of young men, and they’ve done everything that I’ve asked.”
“Obviously it’s disappointing that we didn’t play better in the second half, but boy I’m not going to let that dictate the feeling that we’ve had up to this point, because it’s been a great run. It should just feel awesome, and it does,” said a smiling Siegert.
Glenwood City 46,
(WIAA D7 State Championship game from Thursday, Nov. 15, at Camp Randall Stadium in Madison)
Potosi 6 8 0 7 - 21
Glenwood City 6 6 22 12 - 46
GC - Holmquist, 2-yard run (run failed)
P - Tim Fritz, 2-yard run (kick failed)
P - Alex Wright, 33-yard run (Wright run)
GC - Tuttle, 8-yard run (run failed)
GC - Ni. Mrdutt, 35-yard run (pass failed)
GC - Tuttle, 20-yard run (Holmquist run)
GC - Tuttle, 46-yard run (Holmquist run)
P - Mitch Langkamp, 9-yard pass from Fritz (Fritz kick)
GC - Kopacz, 4-yard run (run failed)
GC - Tuttle, 19-yard run (run failed)
First downs - P 12, GC 27. Rushing - P 22-126, GC 72-465. Passing yards - P 147, GC 35. Passes - P 12-25-1, GC 1-1-0. Fumbles-lost - P 1-0, GC 1-0. Penalties-yards - P 3-34, GC 4-16.
Rushing - P: Alex Wright 8-64, Tim Fritz 3-33, Jase Udelhofen 10-27, Spencer Hawes 1-2; GC: Tuttle 21-195, Holmquist 30-149, Nick kMrdutt 10-67, Kopacz 10-53, Na. Mrdutt 1-1. Passing - P: Tim Fritz 12-25-1, 147; GC: Nicik Mrdutt 1-1-0, 35. Receiving - P: Mitch Langkamp 5-88, Chase Kruser 2-23, Hunter Leibfried 2-20, Alex Wright 1-14, Brent Curtis 1-5, Jase Udelhofen 1-(-3); GC: Kopacz 1-35.