PLATTEVILLE – A lot has changed for the Shullsburg Miners football team since they last took the field at Camp Randall in the WIAA Division 7 state championship game.
Gone are Hall of Fame head coach Scott Matye and 30-year defensive coordinator Mark Lierman along with the 10 all-conference performers among last year’s 13 seniors who led the Miners to their first-ever state finals appearance. Even among the returners– 12 juniors, five sophomores and no seniors– few are in the same positions or the same roles that they were in a year ago, and each had to learn a new offense and defense under first-year varsity coach Andy Paulson.
With all that in tow, the Miners returned to the field at the 2017 Six Rivers Conference Jamboree held at UW-Platteville’s Ralph E. Davis Pioneer Stadium on Saturday afternoon to face league foe River Ridge in their season opener.
The Timberwolves (1-0 overall, 1-0 SRC) used the advantage of experience and a strong performance in the trenches to topple the Miners, 31-8, at the 11th-annual Jamboree on Aug. 19.
“It was a great learning experience. We knew it was going to be a bumpy road this season, but we’re going to learn from our bumps,” admitted Paulson. “I saw the fight in these guys. We didn’t mail it in. We kept going hard the whole game.”
The T’Wolves grabbed the lead on their first possession of the game with Tyler Millin rushing it in from nine yards out to cap a 10-play, 67-yard scoring trek. Kaine Baus’ extra point made it 7-0 with 6:39 to play in the first quarter.
Cole Crubel teamed with Blake Crubel on an 18-yard scoring strike early in the second quarter to extend the Wolves’ lead to 13-0 at the intermission.
The Miners (0-1, 0-1) trekked into River Ridge territory three times on their five first-half possessions, but they turned the ball over once on downs inside the red zone and twice on interceptions to remain scoreless.
After C. Crubel extended the Wolves’ advantage to 19-0 with a 7-yard TD run just seconds into the third quarter, junior Troy Turpin got the Miners on the board with a 41-yard scoring scamper and Oscar Ortiz punched in the conversion to trim the deficit to 19-8 with 10:17 remaining in the stanza.
Millin answered back with a 31-yard TD run for River Ridge late in the third quarter, and C. Crubel tacked on a 40-yard TD run in the fourth quarter to seal the victory for the ‘Wolves.
River Ridge finished the game with 395 yards of total offense, while Shullsburg rolled up 324 yards.
Millin ran 20 times for 198 yards and two scores to lead the way for the Wolves. C. Crubel ran 12 times for 46 yards and two scores and he completed 7-of-13 passes for 135 yards with a TD and an interception.
Alex Wand, who was the team’s starting center last season, completed 14-of-28 passes for 129 yards with two picks, and he gained 45 rushing on 11 carries. Ortiz ran 12 times for 84 yards, while Turpin ran three times for 40 yards and a score and had four catches for 25.
Logan Glasgow added three catches for 54 yards for the Miners, and Griffin Wiegel had five catches for 33 yards and came up with an interception on defense.
“I thought our routes were good and I thought our tempo was good once we started. We just need to be a little more consistent with what we’re doing,” said Paulson.
Shullsburg heads to Highland on Friday, Aug. 25, to face the Cardinals (0-1, 0-1) in a Six Rivers contest. Kickoff is set for 7 p.m.
The Cardinals were beaten 40-6 by Pecatonica/Argyle in their opener last Friday.
River Ridge… 7 6 12 6 – 31
Shullsburg..... 0 0 8 0 – 8
RR – Millin, 9 run (Baus kick)
RR – B. Crubel, 18 pass from C. Crubel (kick failed)
RR – C. Crubel, 7 run (kick failed)
S – Troy Turpin, 41 run (Oscar Ortiz run)
RR – Millin, 31 run (pass failed)
RR – C. Crubel, 40 run (kick failed)
Team Stats: First Downs– RR 22; S 21. Rushing– RR 44-260; S 29-195. Passing– RR 7-13-1, 135; S 14-28-2, 129. Fumbles-Lost– RR 3-0; S 2-0. Penalties– RR 6-53; S 11-105.
Shullsburg Leaders: Rushing (Att-Yds-Td)– Oscar Ortiz, 12-84-0. Passing (Comp-Att-Int-Td-Yds)– Alex Wand, 14-28-2-0, 129. Receiving (Cat-Yds-Td)– Logan Glasgow, 3-54-0; Griffin Wiegel, 5-33-0.