As Menasha’s victorious senior players posed for a postgame picture, they all smiled at the camera and shouted the words: “Shock the world!”
The Bluejays may not be causing jaws to drop around the planet, but they’re certainly turning heads in the state of Wisconsin with their inspired playoff run.
The Bluejays entered the postseason as a mere fifth seed, but have been playing like an elite team and continued to march deep into the WIAA Division 2 playoffs with an impressive 42-22 victory over top-seeded and previously unbeaten Ashwaubenon on Friday in a Level 2 shootout at Calder Stadium.
Menasha (9-2) will play the Hortonville-Menomonie winner next Friday or Saturday in a Level 3 game.
“You know, I knew walking into that meeting that we were going to be a fourth or five seed and that we were probably as good as a one or two seed,” said Menasha coach Jeramie Korth. “Not a lot of people realized that the only games we lost were to Kimberly and Oshkosh North. I’m excited for the kids, the community and the city of Menasha.”
There was nothing flukish about the way the Bluejays took out the Jaguars (10-1). Menasha simply outplayed a skilled Ashwaubenon team led by its outstanding junior quarterback James Morgan. While the highly skilled Morgan threw for 287 yards and three touchdowns, the Bluejays countered with a punishing ground game. Explosive senior running back Dylan Szews rushed for 189 yards and three touchdowns, while athletic junior quarterback Tyler Johnson ran for 143 yards and a score.
“This is a huge win for our program,” said Szews. “It just feels great. Our program hasn’t gotten to Level 3 in a couple years and knocking off that No. 1 seed, just shows what we’ve got.”
The Bluejays had an alarming four turnovers in the first half and five overall, but managed to overcome the miscues. Trailing 10-7 late in the first half, Menasha took a burst of momentum into the locker room and a 14-10 halftime lead when Johnson hit wide receiver Dakotah Reimer in stride with a perfectly thrown 44-yard touchdown pass.
“We have a lot of weapons on offense and tonight we just got rolling,” said Szews.
The Bluejays launched a scoring drive on their first possession of the second half to go up 21-10 on a 23-yard touchdown dash by Szews.
Ashwaubenon, though, made a fourth-quarter run at the Bluejays and slashed Menasha’s lead to 21-16 with 6:09 left on Morgan’s three-yard touchdown pass to Jake Monroe.
But the Bluejays crushed any Jaguars comeback hopes moments later when Emanuel Jenkins returned the ensuing kickoff 98 yards for a game-clinching touchdown.
“That kickoff return by Emanuel was just huge,” said Korth. “Ashwaubenon is such a dangerous team and with that quarterback, they can score in seconds. But our guys stepped up and made plays and Emanuel’s kickoff return was big.”
M – Dylan Szews 56 run (Chris Munoz kick)
A – Jake Monroe 30 pass from James Morgan (Emmitt Carpenter kick)
A – Carpenter 28 field goal
M – Dakotah Reimer 44 pass from Tyler Johnson (Munoz kick)
M – Szews 23 run (Munoz kick)
A – Monroe 6 pass from Morgan (two-point pass failed)
M – Emanuel Jenkins 98 kickoff return (Munoz kick)
M – Szews 1 run (Munoz kick)
A – Jaret Curtis 6 pass from Morgan (two-point pass failed)
M – Tyler Johnson 55 run (Munoz kick)
|Total net yards||281||465|
Rushing – Ashwabenon, Jaret Curtis 9-14. Menasha, Dylan Szews 22-189, Tyler Johnson 15-143.
Passing – Ashwaubeon, James Morgan 22-51-287-2. Menasha, Johnson 7-14-133-2.
Receiving – Ashwaubenon, Jake Monroe 10-116. Menasha, Dakotah Reimer 4-103.