MADISON – Edgar’s fast start put Shullsburg in a hole they were unable to dig their way out of as the Wildcats claimed their school’s seventh all-time state title with a 36-6 victory over the #9-ranked Miners in the WIAA Division 7 state football championship game at Camp Randall Stadium on Thursday, Nov. 17.
The Wildcats (11-3 overall) scored touchdowns on offense and defense in the first three minutes of the game to grab an early 15-0 lead, and maintained that lead over the Miners (12-3) to win the gold trophy for the first time in D7.
Edgar has also won titles in Divisions 4, 5 and 6 under their Hall of Fame head coach Jerry Sinz, who has been at Edgar for the past 42 seasons.
“Some bad things happened early. We were ready to play, but it just didn’t happen. You can’t get in a hole against a team like them. They’re just way too good,” said Shullsburg head coach Scott Matye, who led the Miners to state for the first time in school history in his 33rd season. “It hurts right now, but when they sit down and think about their season, they’re going to be really proud of what they’ve done.”
Edgar took the opening kick and marched right down for a score. All-state senior Alec Hafferman capped the seven-play, 66-yard drive with a 1-yard touchdown run and he added the 2-point conversion to put the Wildcats up 8-0 less than two minutes into the game.
The Wildcats were back in the end zone just over a minute later, this time with their defense as sophomore Karson Butt picked off a Noah Wand pass and returned it 47 yards for a score to put them up 15-0 at the 8:49 mark of the first quarter.
Hafferman added a 2-yard TD run later in the first quarter to extend the lead to 22-0, and then the Miners’ offense started to show a little life.
A 40-yard screen pass from Wand to senior running back Ben Sigwarth on the first play of the Miners’ third drive got them their first first-down of the game at the Edgar 21. Six plays later, senior wide receiver Hunter Matye out-jumped Butt to haul in a 9-yard touchdown pass and put the Miners on the scoreboard with 40 seconds to play in the opening quarter. The PAT failed, leaving the score at 22-6.
“Our line was blocking good. I got out there and (Noah) made a great throw and allowed me to go up and get it,” said H. Matye.
The Miner defense rose up after the score, forced a quick three-and-out by Edgar to give the ball back to the offense at midfield. The Miners moved down to the Wildcats’ 22-yard line until a pair of incomplete passes gave the ball over on downs with 8:11 to play in the half.
That stop seemed to re-energize the Wildcats, who marched 78 yards in 10 plays with Hafferman scoring from six yards out to push the lead to 29-6 with 3:50 remaining in the half.
Another interception by Butt on the Miners’ first play of their next drive gave Edgar the ball back at the Shullsburg 48. Seven plays later, senior Tyler Matysik bulled across the goal line from a yard out to extend the Wildcats’ advantage to 36-6 with 1:32 left in the half.
The Miners held the Wildcats off the scoreboard the entire second half, but they were unable to generate much offense against a stout Edgar D.
“I thought after we got down 22-0 we played pretty decent football. We started to play with a bit of physicality. I’m very proud of the way we played in the second half,” noted Coach Matye. “Second-place isn’t much fun, but there are a hundred and some Division 7 teams that would trade places with us for sure. It’s been a tremendous year. These are some great kids.”
The Wildcats rushed for a season-high 285 yards and four touchdowns in the game and scored a season-high 36 points against the Miners, who had allowed just 13 first quarter points and 34 first half points through their first 13 games.
The 22-point first quarter by Edgar tied a D7 record for points in a quarter, and their 36 points in the first half set a D7 record for points in a half.
Hafferman finished with 136 rushing yards and three scores on 21 carries to lead the Wildcats. Will Raatz ran 12 times for 48 yards and Matysik added 38 yards on eight carries with a TD
Sigwarth ran 20 times for 84 yards to go over the 1,000-yard rushing mark for the season, and he had one catch for 40 yards. He finishes his season with 1,078 yards and 13 TDs, and he ends his career with 2,173 rushing yards and 28 TDs.
Senior Lance Lierman, the Miners’ other 1,000-yard back, was held to 17 yards on nine carries. He led the team with 1,184 yards and 21 TDs this season, and closes his career with 1,840 rushing yards.
Wand completed 7-of-18 passes for 108 yards with a touchdown and three interceptions. He topped the 1,900-yard passing mark and recorded his 26th TD pass for the season during Thursday’s game. Both his yardage (1,919) and TDs (26) were season records for Shullsburg.
“It was a great season overall. It was just not the outcome we expected,” said Wand, who ends his career with 183 completions for a school record 3,112 yards and 43 TDs.
Hunter Matye hauled in two catches for 25 yards and a score. He finishes the season 38 catches for 574 yards and eight TDs, and closes his career with 106 catches (school record) for 1,674 yards and 26 TDs.
“We had a bad season last year, so not many people thought we’d be here, but our guys knew we could do it. It didn’t end up how we wanted it to, but it was still a great season,” commented Hunter Matye.
Defensively, Hunter Matye and sophomore Oren Charles each registered 12 tackles to lead the Miners, while senior Chris Trejo added 11 tackles and senior William Martin recorded seven stops. Charles finished the season with a team-high 109 tackles and Martin followed with 107 tackles.
“It’s a dream come true to play here. I’m proud to have the honor to play on this field with our team,” said Trejo. “We worked really hard to get here. We all worked as a team in practices and games to get here.”
Playing in their final prep football game at SHS were seniors Nate Wedige, Ben Sigwarth, Hunter Matye, Noah Wand, Lance Lierman, Jeremiah Bailey, William Martin, Chris Trejo, Ethan Daughtee, Will Burgess, Alan Montayne, Chad Kelly and Joey Meyer.
“They are going to be remembered. They set so many records this year, especially career records. Some of these kids have been starting for four years. We set some records that won’t be broken in a long, long time. I know it’s not all about records, but they do tell you a lot about a team,” said Coach Matye after leading the Miners to a school record 12 wins this season.
Wedige added, “To get here was great. It meant a lot to our team because it had never happened in Shullsburg history in football. We did that, so we’re very proud.”
The 13 seniors aren’t going to be the only ones who will be missed next season. Following Thursday’s game, Matye– a 2011 WFCA Hall of Fame inductee– announced that he plans to step down as coach along with Mark Lierman, his assistant coach for the past 30 years. Matye finishes his coaching career with a 182-143 overall record, including a 15-12 playoff mark.
“This is probably it. I’m 99.9 percent sure. This was the plan to end it together with this team,” said Matye, who like Lierman has a son on the team who is a senior. “I’ve said it’s like a bad B movie to end our careers here. It’s been fun, but I think it’s time for some new blood at Shullsburg.”
WIAA DIVISION 7 STATE FINAL
Shullsburg… 6 0 0 0 – 6
Edgar………. 22 14 0 0 – 36
E – Hafferman, 1 run (Hafferman run)
E – Butt, 47 interception return (Burish kick)
E – Hafferman, 2 run (Burish kick)
S – Hunter Matye, 9 pass from Noah Wand (run failed)
E – Hafferman, 6 run (Burish kick)
E – Matysik, 1 run (Burish kick)
Team Stats: First Downs– S 11; E 23. Rushing– S 37-118; E 57-285. Passing– S 7-18-3, 108; E 2-4-0, 33. Fumbles-Lost– S 3-1; E 0-0. Penalties– S 7-58; E 5-35.
Shullsburg Leaders: Rushing (Att-Yds-Td)– Ben Sigwarth 20-85-0; Lance Lierman 9-17-0; Logan Glasgow 2-7-0; Noah Wand 5-6-0; Nathan Wedige 1-4-0. Passing (Comp-Att-Int-Td-Yds)– Wand, 7-18-3-1, 108. Receiving (Cat-Yds-Td)– Hunter Matye 3-25-1; Joey Meyer 2-19-0; Sigwarth 1-40-0; Nathan Wedige 1-24-0.