Even though they weren’t shared goals, the Freedom and Hortonville football teams each got what they wanted out of Friday’s season-ending nonconference matchup.
“We wanted to finish 9-0,” Polar Bears co-head coach Andy Kolosso said after his team won 34-7 to complete an unbeaten regular season. “That’s what we were trying to accomplish. It was a goal the team set for itself.”
The Irish, meanwhile, were already thinking about the WIAA playoff picture that became clearer early this morning with the announced playoff groupings. The exact game matchups are expected later today.
“We stuck to our guns,” Freedom coach Clint Kriewaldt said after he pulled his starters after one quarter despite holding a 7-0 lead.
Both teams were already guaranteed postseason slots and since Friday’s game was a nonconference one, it would have little effect on playoff bracket seedings. With the Polar Bears’ goal accomplished, Kolosso took a moment to laud the seniors who can take an unbeaten regular season with them into the lifetime memory book.
“As much as coaches might want to say that it’s both (coaching and talent), this is a special group,” Kolosso said when asked whether the biggest factor in this year’s achievement was the program or the seniors. “They’ve been with me this whole time now and it’s just a good group of kids.”
Freedom (6-3) surprised that group of Polar Bears with its opening drive. The Irish started with a 14-play, 80-yard drive that finished with a spectacular Eric Schommer touchdown catch on Andrew Connelly’s 23-yard pass to give Freedom the lead.
The Irish also sacked Hortonville quarterback Andrew Thompson three times in the opening period and held the Polar Bears to minus-five yards of total offense. As Kriewaldt planned, however, he pulled his starters after one period to ensure a healthy lineup for the playoffs.
“We came out and hit them in the mouth,” he said. “That whole first quarter was our game. When we pulled guys out, that’s when things got a little sideways.”
He admitted that took some discussion with his starters on the sidelines.
“It’s a tough situation because we know we’ve got them right now, so we had guys who were mad and wanting to get back in there,” Kriewaldt said. “We had to tell them we were thinking of bigger things in store for us.”
With the goal of an unbeaten season, Hortonville kept its offensive starters in the game through part of the second period until it had a 14-7 lead. The Polar Bears reserves then pitched in a couple of extra second-quarter scores to give them a 28-7 halftime margin. The contest basically became a junior varsity-freshman game in the second half, played under a running clock by agreement of both teams.
With the end of Friday’s contest, which had the feeling of an NFL final preseason game, both teams now turn to face whatever unknown challenges are coming their way.
“We accomplished that (9-0 season), so now it’s time to move on and think about other things,” Kolosso said.
“We’re starting to hit on all cylinders,” Kriewaldt said. “We’re getting some of guys back now (from injury), so we have some playmakers out there.”
F – Eric Schommer 23 pass from Andrew Connelly (Brett Schommer kick)
H – Alex Lasinski 28 run (Taylor Pahl kick)
H – Tristyn Guyette 13 pass from Andrew Thompson (Pahl kick)
H – Peter Van Beek 30 run (Pahl kick)
H – Mitch Lillge 19 pass from Jake Sommers (Pahl kick)
H – Jordan Peters 9 run (run failed)
|Total net yards||279||66|
Rushing – Hortonville, Lasinski 9-78, Peters 10-59, Van Beek 3-49, Conger 6-26, Flunker 1-4, Sternhagen 2-1, Schabo 3-(-5), Thompson 5-(-28). Freedom, Peters 6-28, Gonnering 5-13, Bazile 7-11, E. Daul 3-11, Doxtator 6-0, Jadin 1-(-7), Rudie 1-(-9), Connelly 1-(-10), Team 0-(-10).
Passing – Hortonville, Thompson 6-3-52-0, Sommers 1-1-19-0, Schabo 2-2-24-0. Freedom, Connelly 5-3-45-0, Doxtator 4-1-(-6)-0, Rudie 1-0-0-0.
Receiving – Hortonville, T. Guyette 3-52, Lillge 1-19, Cliver 1-13, Sternhagen 1-11. Freedom, E. Schommer 1-23, C. Daul 1-19, Gonnering 1-3, E. Daul 1-(-6).