That’s how Oshkosh North broke down the huddle every day after practice this week, knowing they already had a share of the Valley Football Association South Division title, and Friday night it was time to claim it for themselves.
The Spartans did just that, building a two-touchdown lead before halftime and surviving a Marshfield third-quarter attack to win 24-13 on J.J. Keller Field at Titan Stadium to cap an undefeated regular season and conference champions all by their lonesome.
“We said before our team prayer that one of the seven deadly sins was greed, so we asked for forgiveness prior to today’s game,” Oshkosh North head coach Chris Kujawa said.
Oshkosh North’s hopes for an undefeated season and outright Valley Football Association South Division championship seemed in peril after a second-half rally by the Tigers, however.
After taking a 14-0 halftime lead, Marshfield (6-3, 5-2VFA) scored a pair of touchdowns to pull within one in the third quarter, and appeared to have the Spartans reeling.
Nate Neveau and Cooper Radtke changed that on the first play of the fourth quarter.
Neveau hit Radtke in stride deep down the left sideline for a 55-yard touchdown strike to push the lead back to eight and the stout defense did the rest, shutting Marshfield out the rest of the game and Oshkosh North completed its undefeated regular season and outright VFA South Division championship with a 24-13 victory on J.J. Keller Field at Titan Stadium Friday night.
“It feels great, I can’t say enough about my team, how hard we worked all year, all summer, and what we’ve done to accomplish this,” Radtke said. “It feels good.”
North connected for a 39-yard field goal off the right leg of Turner Geisthardt midway through the fourth quarter, and turned it over to Robert Phillips and the defense to bring it home.
The defense responded, hounding the dual quarterbacks Colton Zahradka and Luke Zeiker and finishing with four sacks and three interceptions.
“Our defense has been great all year, I think the most points we’ve given up was 19,” quarterback Nate Neveau said, “They hit on a couple big plays, but other than that we held them in check.”
In the beginning, however, it didn’t appear the Spartans would need the defense to slam the door.
North struck pay dirt on its second possession of the game. After a Hintze 10-yard rush, Neveau hit Cooper Radtke deep down the left sideline for a 58-yard touchdown strike to put the Spartans on the board at 7-0 early in the second quarter.
“We felt they were taking away alot of stuff, and we felt we had an opportunity to do some things there, and Cooper (Radtke) was able to beat his man and make a play on the ball,” Neveau said, “he did the rest, and nobody’s going to catch him when he get’s going.”
Both defense’s held firm over the next three possessions, but after the Spartans took over at the Marshfield 41-yard line, Neveau took to the air again.
Five runs, two from Hintze, two from Robert Phillips and one from Neveau, North was looking at a second-and-11 from the Marshfield 35. Neveau dropped back, and found a wide-open Cameron Parish in the middle of the field for a 26-yard gain all the way down to the nine-yard line. Alex Hintze took the ball on the next play and bulled his way down to the one, running Marshfield defenders over in the process.
Two plays later, Neveau took a quarterback keeper in for the score, and with just 27-seconds left before halftime North lead 14-0. Neveau completed six of his 11 pass attempts for 187 yards and two touchdowns and rushed a score.
Marshfield came out firing in the third quarter, taking the opening possession and marching 60-yards on eight plays, capped by a Zuiker 6-yard touchdown pass to fullback Travis Lutz to bring them within eight. Then, on the first play after a missed field goal by the Spartans, Zuiker found Jeffery Allison for an 80-yard touchdown strike to bring Marshfield within one.
But that would be as close as the Tigers would get.
Oshkosh North 24, Marshfield 13
Marshfield…0 0 13 0 — 13
Oshkosh North…0 14 0 10 — 24
ON — Cooper Radtke, 58 pass from Nate Neveau (Turner Geisthardt kick).
ON — Neveau, 1 run (Geisthardt kick).
MAR — Travis Lutz, 6 pass from Luke Zuiker (kick failed).
MAR — Jeffery Allison, 80 pass from Zuiker (Andy Riesterer kick).
ON — Radtke, 55 pass from Neveau (Geisthardt kick).
ON — FG, Geisthardt, 38.
First downs 8 10
Total yards 329 324
Rushing 23-122 39-137
Yards passing 207 187
Comp.-Att-Int 8-19-3 6-11-0
Fumbles 0-0 0-0
Rushing: MAR — Caleb Alexander 15-50. ON — Alex Hintze 19-68, Nate Neveau 13-42.
Passing: MAR — Luke Zuiker 5-11-1-177, Colton Zarotka 3-8-2-30. ON — Neveau 6-11-0-187.
Receiving: MAR — Jeffery Allison 3-137. ON — Cooper Radtke 3-118, Cameron Parish 3-69.