Wrightstown runs wild in playoff rout of FVL

APPLETON — Try stopping a buffalo stampede.

Andrew Vande Walle of Wrightstown carries the ball as Isaac Gerhardt (right) and Dustin Thern of Fox Valley Lutheran try to bring him down during a WIAA Division 4 playoff game Friday in Wrightstown.

Andrew Vande Walle of Wrightstown carries the ball as Isaac Gerhardt (right) and Dustin Thern of Fox Valley Lutheran try to bring him down during a WIAA Division 4 playoff game Friday in Wrightstown.

That was the type of bruising, yardage-gobbling ground game that Wrightstown unleashed Friday night.

The Tigers pounded the rock to perfection, rolling up an astounding 668 rushing yards and scoring eight rushing touchdowns in a 56-26 Division 4, Level 2 win over Fox Valley Lutheran.

Wrightstown (9-2) advanced to a Level 3 game against North Eastern Conference foe Freedom. The Tigers will look to deliver some payback from a 7-0 loss to the Irish on Oct. 16.

Wrightstown tuned up for the rematch with one of the most prolific rushing performances ever by a Wisconsin prep football team. The Tigers had a pair of 200-yard rushers and finished just 69 yards short of the all-time state record for single-game rushing (737) accomplished by Ozaukee in 2011.

“Oh, the blocking tonight was outstanding,” said Wrightstown senior running back Josh Verbeten. “It was some of the best blocking I’ve ever seen. We were getting five, six yards every running attempt. As a back, it was exciting.”

Verbeten, a speedy 5-foot-9, 170-pounder, rushed for 262 yards and three touchdowns, but had plenty of help. Senior Hunter Kussow also ran wild with 209 yards and a pair of touchdowns. Offensive linemen like Nik Sandona, Wyatt Van Rossum, Gage Sellers, Nathan Beining, Ben Klister, Mark Diny and tight end Stephen DeCramer dominated in the trenches, helping the Tigers pile up 684 total yards and average 8.8 yards-per-carry.

“I tell ya’ what, our kids up front did a great job and our backs really ran the ball well,” said Wrightstown coach Matt Binsfield. “We told our kids that this was a game where grit and determination were going to take us a long way, and it did. I told our kids, that’s who we are. As the Wrightstown football team, we’re going to run the ball.

“When we played Freedom earlier in the year, we weren’t able to do that, and we’re going to have to find a way to get it done next week.”

Wrightstown posted 48-24 win over Fox Valley Lutheran (5-6) during the regular season, and the playoff game followed a similar script.

“It was the same kind of game it was a few weeks ago,” said Fox Valley Lutheran coach Adam Frey. “They just kind of handled us up front and that’s the way it was tonight. We couldn’t stop their front five or six guys. We were hitting well, but we were going to our knees and slipping off right away. And once that happens, they were able to slip by our third line of defense, and it was off to the races.”

The Foxes led twice in the opening quarter before Wrightstown seized control. Quarterback Ethan Eisenmann tossed a 6-yard touchdown pass to Cole Barrington on the game’s first possession, before the Tigers retaliated on the first of Verbeten’s three touchdowns.

Eisenmann fired a perfectly thrown 59-yard touchdown pass to Ben Gucinski on the Foxes’ second possession and it looked like FVL might be ready to challenge the Tigers.

But that didn’t happen. Verbeten scored two more first-half touchdowns and Bryce Herlache added another to give Wrightstown a 29-14 halftime lead. The Tigers kept piling up yards and scores in the second half, even with reserves playing much of the fourth quarter.

“The toughest part is that you know it’s coming, but you have a hard time stopping their run because they do it so well,” said Frey.

The Foxes were led offensively by Eisenmann, who threw for 227 yards, and running back Zayne Rodencal, who rushed for 102 yards.

“Their offense does a great job,” said Binsfeld. “They had the No. 1 offense in our league during the regular season and they chuck the ball all over the place. It’s a pain in the butt to defend them every time you play them.”













First quarter

FVL: Cole Barrington 6 pass from Ethan Eisenmann (Two point pass failed)

W: Josh Verbeten 54 run (Jonathan Gerrits kick)

FVL: Ben Gucinski 59 pass from Eisenmann (Alex Gerhardt pass from Eisenmann)

W: Bryce Herlache 1 run (Gerrits kick)

Second quarter

W: Verbeten 2 run (Hunter Kussow run)

W: Verbeten 6 run (Verbeten run)

Third quarter

W: Herlache 1 run (Kussow run failed)

FVL: Gerhardt 92 kick return (Two point pass failed)

W: Stetson Burmeister 1 run (Kussow run)

W: Andrew Vande Walle 19 run (Vande Walle run failed)

Fourth quarter

W: John Rosera 33 run (Gerrits kick)

FVL: Stephen Baehman 74 pass from Eisenmann (Two point pass failed)



First downs



Total net yards






Passing yards












Individual statistics

Rushing — Fox Valley Lutheran: Zayne Rodencal 24-102. Wrightstown: Verbeten 25-262-3; Kussow 20-209; Herlache 12-61-2.

Passing — Fox Valley Lutheran: Eisenmann 7-21-227. Wrightstown: Zac Haese 1-3-18.

Receiving — Fox Valley Lutheran: Gucinski 2-99-1. Wrightstown: Stephen De Cramer 1-18.

Tim Froberg: 920-993-1000, ext. 423, or; on Twitter @twfroberg

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