Gillett wins second straight football game

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Greg Bates, Times Herald Correspondent

Photo by Josh Thompson

Gillett’s Dylan Roberts runs away from a Lena/STAA defender during Friday’s game in Gillett. Gillett won 35-8.

The combination of Alex Zeitler to Dylan Roberts has been almost unstoppable.

After hooking up for four touchdowns in a win the previous week, the dynamic duo from Gillett connected three times Friday night.

The Tigers rode the tails of their red hot quarterback-wide receiver tandem to a 35-8 victory over Lena/St. Thomas Aquinas in Gillett’s homecoming game.

According to Roberts, a big reason for the success of the passing game the last two weeks has been the offensive line protecting Zeitler so well.

“(Alex) came on late in the season last year and we’ve been working on it throughout the summer, and we just have that connection,” Roberts said.

“He points me off routes sometimes and he just gets the ball to me. That’s all there is to it, he gets the ball to me.”

Zeitler finished the night 11-for-12 for 146 yards. Eight of those completions went to Roberts for 138 yards.

“You wouldn’t tell that one’s a sophomore and one’s a senior, that’s for sure,” said Gillett coach Rick Kamps. “Alex Zeitler’s got all the tools and he’s only a sophomore and he’s just getting stronger and he’s just getting better. Dylan, this is only his second year of football. In the years I’ve coached — I’ve coached in the Bay, at Bay Port, I’ve coached at Marinette — he’s one of the best receivers I’ve seen. When he gets the ball in his hands, it’s electric.”

Gillett’s offense showed excellent balance against Lena/STAA. The Tigers tallied 355 total yards, 209 of which came on the ground. Matt Peterson had 11 carries for 132 yards and Monte Noffke added 58 yards on 15 touches.

“I believe when we get going, we’re unstoppable,” Roberts said. “I believe we’re the best team in the conference when we’re going.”

On the opening drive of the game by Lena/STAA (1-6, 1-4 M&O), the Titans got down to the Tigers’ 10 before fumbling and turning the ball over. That deflated the Titans’ offense the rest of the night.

After a fumble and punt on its first two drives, Gillett (3-4, 2-3 in M&O) got its offense flowing mid-second quarter.

“Latter stage of the first quarter into the early parts of the second quarter, I noticed a lot of their kids sucking air,” Kamps said. “They were gassed. We had gassed them. That’s when we put the foot on the pedal and went for it.”

Matt Peterson ate up 26 yards on two carries to get the Tigers down to the Titans’ 25. On the next play, Zeitler connected with Roberts on a fly route down the right sideline for a 25-yard touchdown pass. Zeitler ran in the 2-point conversion to put Gillett up 8-0.

Lena/STAA went three-and-out on the ensuing drive and Gillett was rolling again. Starting on the Titans’ 43, Monte Noffke had a 12-yard run to the 8. Noffke took another handoff and scored from 8 yards out. Zeitler to Brett Milhans on the 2-point conversion made it 16-0 with 2:06 remaining in the first half.

Gillett got the ball back at the Lena/STAA 24 with 53 seconds left and was looking to add to its lead. Zeitler and Roberts reunited again, this time from 16 yards out for a TD. The point-after put Gillett up 23-0 with 17.2 seconds remaining.

In the second half, the Tigers’ Zeitler-to-Roberts combo struck for a third time. After a 38-yard gain by Roberts down to the Lena/STAA 4, he caught a 1-yard slant for a touchdown to make it 29-0. Zeitler tacked on another TD with a 1-yard run late in the third quarter and it was a comfortable 35-0 lead for Gillett.

With the game winding down and Gillett’s reserve underclassmen players in the game, Lena/STAA quarterback Kiefer Powers scored on a 55-yard run with 2:30 left. The Titans also tacked on the 2-point conversion.

Gillett’s defense was solid all night. Lena/STAA amassed 86 of its 219 yards on the game’s final series. Kamps called his team’s defensive effort huge after allowing 48.8 points per night in the team’s previous five games.

“We’ve been getting gashed,” Kamps said. “I’m proud of the way they played. After that first drive, we really didn’t give up much.”

With two games remaining, both on the road, the Gillett players know that if they win out, a postseason berth is in store.

“We’ve got a tough mountain ahead of us next week in Crivitz,” Kamps said. “That’s not going to be easy. It’s going to be a tough game. I like our chances. I like where the team is right now.”