BOSCOBEL - The Boscobel football team looked solid in their initial drive Friday night, in their home opener, but were unable to come away with a score. From there the teams battled to a scoreless tie at the end of the first quarter, but the New Lisbon Rockets started to find some answers to the Boscobel defense and were threatening as the quarter came to a close.
After taking the ball on the opening kickoff from their own 25 yard line to the New Lisbon 20 in eight plays, it looked like the Bulldogs were going to deliver a score. However, a five-yard loss forced by a Rocket blitz, followed by a penalty, put the Bulldogs in a tough third down and 26 to go from the 35 yard line. A long pass trying to pick up the yardage was intercepted by New Lisbon, and the promising drive was thwarted.
Until the drive stalled, Boscobel moved the ball methodically behind solid blocking from their offensive line of freshman center TJ Bell, sophomore guard Kane Groom, and seniors, guard Braeden Myers, and tackles Logan Shriver and Cooper Rounds.
Junior Travis Denner swept the right side, after bobbling the exchange with junior quarterback Rylee Bray, and picked up eight yards on first down. The Bulldogs then worked the left side, with junior tailback Amari Asamoah taking a pitch from Bray, getting to the edge and scampering down the sidelines for twelve yards and a Bulldog first down at the Bulldog 46.
An offside penalty on the Rockets pushed the ball across the 50-yard line and into Rocket territory, and a first and five situation. Boscobel picked up its second first down of the drive when sophomore running back Noah Loos made a nifty cutback move and found seven yards off the right side. A four-yard pick up by Asamoah made it second down and six from the New Lisbon 32-yard line, Loos broke loose for 18 more yards. On the play, Loos took the handoff from Bray five yards deep and encountered two Rocket defenders who had slipped into the backfield. Loos cut right and broke two tackles before getting the edge on the right side and sprinting along the sideline before being drug down at the Rocket 17.
At this point, New Lisbon began to load the line of scrimmage and bring pressure, and it had immediate results. On first down, Bray was swallowed up from behind by a blitz coming from his back side as he started down the line on an option play to the right for a loss of five yards. A pitch to the left to Asamoah gained four yards, setting up a third down and eleven from the twenty. On the next play, a sweep to the right, the Bulldogs were flagged for a block in the back, setting up the third and 26 situation and the game’s first turnover.
Bray rolled left off play action and lofted a pass to senior slot receiver Michale Wiegel who was jostling with the defender for position on a corner route. Wiegel was able to get his hands on the pass, but the ball popped in the air and fell on the defender’s chest as he lay on the ground, gathering it up for the interception. A tough way for a solid drive to end.
For the remainder of the first quarter New Lisbon and Boscobel traded two possessions each that ended in three plays and punt. The Rockets took over on their own 33 with 1:20 left in the quarter. After being stuffed for no gain on first down, New Lisbon and their senior quarterback Gunnar Pedersen found a play that would give Boscobel trouble the remainder of the game.
Operating from a spread out pistol formation with no back, Pedersen meshed with a motioning slotback moving from left to right, then pulled the ball and sprinted up the middle, splitting six Bulldog defenders as he raced 48 yards to the Boscobel 25 yard line before being caught from behind.
The quarter ended on the next play, and Pedersen continued, carrying four consecutive times on variations of the same play, moving the ball to the Boscobel 15.
A penalty against New Lisbon set them up with a fourth down and two play from the 18-yard line, and the Bulldog defense made a fine play as senior linebacker Braiden Pickett blitzed off the edge, beating the lead blocker and forcing a jumbled mesh between the back and Pedersen. As Pickett wrapped Pederson at the knees, the Rocket quarterback gave an underhanded flip to his sophomore running back Stephen Daley, who skipped to the outside and down the sideline for a touchdown. A successful try for two made the score 8-0 and seemed to open the floodgates for the Rockets.
The next Bulldog possession began at their own twelve yard line and Boscobel fumbled on the first play, giving the Rockets the ball on the Bulldog 9. Pedersen scored on the next play, the try for two failed as Wes Erb of Boscobel broke up the pass and New Lisbon led 14-0.
Boscobel’s Travis Denner nearly broke the ensuing kickoff for a touchdown, but was caught after a 43-yard return. That possession ended when the Rockets intercepted a pass on a third and ten situation, giving them the ball at their own 25. After picking up a first down, New Lisbon took a shot on a deep ball that was defended very well by Denner. Facing a third and ten from their own 39, the Rockets sent their outside receivers to the sidelines and slipped their fullback, Daley, over the middle who made a nice catch and raced 61 yards for the third touchdown of the second quarter. The two-point conversion extended the lead to 22-0.
The Bulldogs were forced to punt on their next possession, giving New Lisbon the ball on Boscobel’s 33-yard line with 3:43 left in the half. After Wiegel made a nice play defending a long pass down the right sideline, the Rockets called Pedersen’s number again on second down. Running the same play that had gotten him a 48-yard run earlier, Pedersen gashed the middle again for a 33-yard touchdown run. Noah Loos knocked down the pass for two, but New Lisbon’s lead now stood at 28-0.
Michael Wiegel gave the Bulldogs a spark as halftime neared, taking the kickoff at his own 15, he found a seam up the middle and picked up 28 yards, setting his team up at their own 43 yard line with 3:20 to play in the half. Quarterback Rylee Bray then turned in a big play for the Bulldogs. Rolling out to his left and the short side of the field looking to pass, he pulled the ball down and eluded two tacklers, got up the sideline and then cut back, crossing the middle of the field and gaining 49 yards before he was pulled down at the New Lisbon 14 with 2:40 to go. Two runs by Asamoah gained four yards. Facing a third down and seven from the 10 yard line, Boscobel ran a sprint option to the right, Bray faked the pitch and cut it back, taking it up the middle for the touchdown! The extra point attempt failed, making the score 28-6 at the half.
Better second half
The Bulldogs, continued to battle and played a competitive second half against New Lisbon, despite the score and some concerning injuries. Asamoah suffered a broken elbow and will be out for some time. Neither team scored in the third quarter, though New Lisbon’s last drive of the quarter put them at the Bulldog one-yard line. The Rockets then scored on the first play of the fourth quarter, and then again late with just 1:43 to play in the game to make the final score 40-6.
Despite the loss, first year head coach Wayne Otto continues to see reason for optimism moving forward as he seeks to rebuild the program and as activities director, reshape the overall mindset of Bulldog athletic programs.
“Our goal is to continue to improve and push to be competitive, to not fall back to negativity.” said Otto. In that regard, Otto had high praise for the players in the program, stating, “These are just some of the nicest kids. At this point, there could be back-biting and blaming of others, but that is not what they are doing. They are working together, understanding their roles, and being flexible. They’re willing to adjust and shift positions due to injuries, to do what’s best for the team. When things are tough, that’s when people’s true colors show. These kids are doing the right things.”
Otto noted that he and his coaches, after watching film and considering their progress since beginning practice, are seeing progress. “The process is working” said Otto, “We are seeing improvement in our offensive execution, special teams have played well, the defense is aligning properly and putting itself in position, and the secondary has played very well.”
“It doesn’t get any easier,” observed Otto. “We have River Ridge next week, with Southwestern and then Cambridge following that. But these kids will continue to work and stay positive, they’re really good kids.”
Otto also encourages parents and fans to recognize the hard work the kids are putting in, not just in football but in the other fall programs as well.“We need adults to get involved in a positive manner, support these athletes and the programs. We need new members in the booster club and the team booster clubs as well to support these young people and what they’re trying to accomplish.”