The Green Bay Southwest football team stayed in contention for the Fox River Classic Conference championship on Friday night.
Here’s the scary thing about the Trojans: Even after beating Green Bay Notre Dame 34-15 at Dahlin Family Stadium to improve to 5-0 and keep pace with Bay Port and Green Bay Preble in the league race, Southwest likely hasn’t even played its best ball yet.
Not even close.
The Trojans haven’t won a conference championship since winning the old Fox River Valley in 1975, and it’s too early to say they will break that title drought this season with Preble looming in Week 7 and Bay Port in Week 8.
But the Trojans appear to be improving by the week, evidenced by their best performance against the Tritons in coach Bryce Paup’s six seasons.
Southwest has gone 3-0 the past three years against Notre Dame. Unlike the previous two meetings, this one was over by the fourth quarter despite the Tritons giving an effort good enough to earn praise from long-time coach John Nowak.
The Trojans led 13-0 at halftime and extended the lead to 27-0 early in the fourth quarter. By the time Notre Dame started to move the ball through the air, the game was all but over.
That was the good part for the Trojans, but they weren’t totally happy with how they played despite allowing just three rushing yards.
The defense was gashed by Notre Dame backup quarterback Mitch VandenMeerendonk over the final 8 minutes. VandenMeerendonk, who was starting for an injured Charlie Rotherham, threw a 37-yard TD pass to Stuart Kwaterski for Notre Dame’s first score, and then hooked up with Nick Martzahl on a 57-yard TD a few minutes later.
“We just kept messing ourselves up, it seemed like every other play we would have something going wrong,” Paup said. “Then the defense decided to let up in the second half. It was frustrating.
“Not that I want to bury a team, but I want to see us play well the whole time and not let up and think we’ve got it. Notre Dame is a very good coached team, they are always going to be tough.”
Unlike the Tritons, who are still battling for a playoff spot despite being a young team, the Trojans have too many battle-tested veterans to lose concentration during a game.
“We have got to figure that out, because it’s very frustrating,” Paup said. “I don’t know if we have put four quarters together yet. I don’t want it to sneak up and bite us in a bad time. We have got to get this corrected.”
The Trojans defense has been solid most of the season, allowing no more than 15 points in any game and entering the showdown against Notre Dame allowing the second-fewest yards in the 12-team league.
But the offense appears to be turning it on, too. It has gotten untracked the last two weeks, scoring 58 points against a rebuilding Sheboygan North team before its performance against the Tritons.
After starting out slow against Notre Dame, the Trojans took a 6-0 lead with 5 minutes, 21 seconds remaining in the first half on a 12-play, 77-yard drive that was capped by senior Andrew Kedzierski’s 1-yard TD run.
Junior running back Jacob Gorzek took off for a 70-yard TD run down the right sideline on the next drive, putting Southwest up 13-0. Senior quarterback Matt McMahon got in on the fun with a 24-yard TD on the opening drive of the second half before Gorzek scored on a 14-yard run to open the fourth quarter.
Gorzek finished with a game-high 126 yards on nine carries, while Kieran Thomas added 52 yards on five attempts.
Southwest rushed for 270 yards and had 389 yards total.
It was around the fifth game last season when the Trojans started to play well on offense, and Paup and his team hopes history repeats itself.
“There is absolutely another gear,” Gorzek said. “We all still have a lot of stuff to work on. We will just be getting better from here.
“It was a tough game. We knew it was going to be a dogfight, so we just came out and played our best. The whole offensive line killed it. Overall, pretty happy. But there is no way we are going to get complacent.”
|GB Notre Dame||0||0||0||15||—||15|
GBSW- Andre Kedzierski 1 yard run (kick failed)
GBSW- Jacob Gorzek 70 yard run (Matt Adams kick)
GBSW- Matt McMahon 24 yard run (Bowker kick)
GBSW- Jacob Gorzek 14 yard run (Bowker kick)
GBSW- Chad Lehman 43 yard pass from Matt McMahon (Bowker kick)
GBND- Stuart Kwaterski 37 yard pass from Mitch Vandenmeerendonk (Vincent Pallini kick)
GBND- Nick Martzahl 57 yard pass from Mitch Vandenmeerendonk (Nick Martzahl run)
Rushing — GB Southwest, Jake Gorzek 9-126, Kieran Thomas 5-52.
Passing — GB Notre Dame, Mitch VandenMeerendonk 19-27-1-249. GB Southwest, Matt McMahon 6-14–119.