OSHKOSH — The Southwestern Wisconsin Conference played a key role in the South’s 25–20 comeback victory in Saturday’s Wisconsin Football Coaches Association Small Schools (Division 4–7) All-Star Game at UW–Oshkosh’s Titan Stadium.
River Valley wide receiver Ryan Wickman caught an eight-yard touchdown from Cedar Grove-Belgium’s Josh Weiss with 9:58 remaining, which proved to be the game-winning star. Wickman’s catch capped a 14-point comeback for the South, which trailed 20–6 late in the third quarter after Grantsburg’s Avery Fagerberg connected on a 28-yard field goal, his second of the day, with 6:44 left in the third quarter.
The South stopped the North inches short on fourth-and-1 from the North’s 41 with 6:34 left to preserve the win.
Platteville safety Alex Traxler kicked an extra point in the comeback and played defense alongside Hillmen linebacker Luke Fugate. The duo each made a handful of tackles in the victory. Potosi’s Tanner Collins also played linebacker in the game on the South defense.
The South got back in the game when Gale–Ettrick–Trempeleau running back Derek Haines scored from a yard out and Platteville’s Alex Traxler added the extra point to pull the South within a touchdown at 20–13 with 3:12 left in the third quarter.
The South struck again less than three minutes later, when Poynette’s Tanner Kerr scored on a six-yard run with 41 seconds left in the third, but the conversion pass failed leaving the South trailing by a point a 20–19.
The South opened the scoring less than four minutes into the game when Weiss hit his prep teammate and first cousin Reid Hilbelink with a 28-yard touchdown pass. But the South scored the next 20 points to build a two-score lead.
Two Rivers’ Dawson Kiphart connected with Alec Hafferman of Edgar from two yards a short time later as the North team went up 7–6. Kiphart would engineer another scoring drive in the final minute of the first half, connecting with Saint Croix Central’s Trevor Nelson on a 21-yard scoring pass with 26 seconds remaining.
The South fumbled the ensuing kickoff, and Fagerburg was good from 42 yards out as time expired in the second quarter to send the North team to halftime with a 17–6 advantage.
Weiss finished the game 15 of 20 for 214 yards with two TDs and one interception. Hilbenlink hauled in a team-high seven passes for a game-high 128 yards.
Brookfield Academy’s Ian Francis completed 6 of 10 passes for 70 yards and rushed for a team-high 20 yards.
Other area players on the South D4–7 squad were Lancaster’s Justin Allen (LB) and Larry Moore III (OL), River Valley’s Elijah Alt (DB), Darlington’s Jesse Sturtz (LB), Shullsburg’s Hunter Matye (DB) and Pecatonica/Argyle’s Logan Green (DB).
Former Platteville head coach Kyle Craig and Pecatonica/Argyle coach Larry Green were assistant coaches for the South.
The South also won Large Schools All-Star Game 10–0 in a turnover-filled game that was called in the third quarter due to severe weather. The North scored a 32–20 victory in the 8-man All-Star game early Saturday morning.
The players and coaches who participated in this year's WFCA All-Star event raised over $457,000, which will be donated to several charitable organizations including the Children's Hospitals in the state of Wisconsin.
WFCA Small Schools All-Star Game
South 25, North 20
(from Saturday, July 15 @ UW–Oshkosh)
North 7 10 3 0 — 20
South 6 0 13 6 — 25
S: Reid Hilbrelink (Cedar Grove-Belgium) 29 pass from Josh Weiss (Cedar Grove-Belgium) (run failed)
N: Alec Haferman (Edgar) 2 pass from Dawson Kiphart (Two Rivers) (Fagerberg kick)
N: Trevor Nelson (St. Croix Central) 21 pass from Kiphart (Fagerberg kick)
N: FG Fagerberg 42
N: FG Avery Fagerberg (Grantsburg) 28
S: Derek Haines (Gale-Ettrick-Trempeleau) 1 run (Alex Traxler kick)
S: Tanner Kerr (Poynette) 6 run (pass failed)
S: Ryan Wickman (River Valley) 8 pass from Weiss (pass failed)
First downs — N 17, S 11. Rushing — N 29-44, S 18-41. Passing Yards — N 311, S 291. Passing (comp-att-int) — N 26-40-0, S 21-30-1. Fumbles–lost — N 1-0, S 4-31. Penalties-yards — N 6-48, S 2-15.
Rushing — N: Bryce Herlache (Wrightstown) 11-47, Noah Zastrow (Spencer/Columbus) 7-11; S: Ian Francis (Brookfield) 3-20, Derek Haines (Gale–Ettrick–Trempeleau) 3-7. Passing — N: Dawson Davis (Chetek) 15-25-0 185, Dawson Kiphart (Two Rivers) 11-15-0 126; S: Josh Wess (Cedar Grove-Belgium) 15-20-1 214, Ian Francis (Brookfield) 6-10-0 77. Receiving — N: Kyle Hietpas (Little Chute) 3-91, Darryl Williams (Chetek) 8-76; S: Reid Hilbelink (Cedar Grove-Belgium) 7-128, Carter Halverson (Arcadia) 7-61, Anthony Hendrickson (Pecatonica/Argyle) 2-41, Ryan Wickman (River Valley) 2-17.