Football: Wausaukee rallies to defeat Gillett

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Gillett was up 14 points at the 1st quarter

By Greg Bates, Times Herald Correspondent

Gillett High School running back Nick Hertwig runs the ball as Bo Krueger is ready to block during Friday’s 38-26 home loss to Wausaukee. (Photo by Keri Hicks)

Trailing by 14 points in the first quarter, visiting Wausaukee rattled off 32 unanswered points to beat Gillett 38-26 in MONLPC-8 action on Friday.

“That’s adversity, and that’s what they’ve got to learn to deal with whether it’s on a football field or in life,” Gillett coach Jesse Witcraft said. “I think it’s a good learning lesson for us.”

Both teams came into the contest with identical 4-2 records, 4-1 in the conference. The winner would have the edge to advance to the 8-team Jamboree — the playoffs in 8-man football — at the end of the season.

Gillett was up 20-6 before its offense was shut down and Wausaukee got its offense clicking. Witcraft said the biggest difference in the 32 straight points by Wausaukee was lack of execution by Gillett.

“The guys started knowing they were in for a test and we were hitting hard and they were hitting hard,” Witcraft said. “They had some big plays that turned the momentum around, a couple of big pass plays. I thought we were controlling the run pretty well, but once they started opening up the pass plays the kids panic a little bit.”

“I think our kids knew that they got a couple of big plays on us, but they were things we could correct,” Wausaukee coach Grant Russ said. “We came out kind of flat, we weren’t aggressive. And on offense we started getting aggressive and we had a big pass play there to kind of spark us. We knew we could get stuff going, and once we got a lead there the kids really got more physical on offense and we were able to grind the ball.”

Wausaukee got a big game from its big quarterback Matthew Delfosse. The 210-pound bruiser ran over the Gillett defenders at times, rushing 28 times for 142 yards and three touchdowns. When Gillett decided to pull its safety down into the box to help control the run, Wausaukee went to the air. The slant over the middle of the field was open, and Delfosse made Gillett pay.

“We talked at halftime too to put somebody back, but then when you have a threat like 23 (Delfoss) is, it’s hard,” Witcraft said. “You almost have to man-up and keep that extra defender in the box, because 23 is a good athlete. He’s going to make the moves, he’s going to make the plays. You have to account for him, but they had some speed on the outside – they’re littler kids, but they’re fast.”

Delfosse finished 9-for-14 passing for 121 yards and one touchdown.

“We want to run with him, but we also know that we’ve got other weapons that we can go to to sprinkle in to make sure teams can’t just gear up to stop him,” Russ said.

Gillett was set to receive the opening kickoff when Wausaukee attempted an onside kick. The Tigers recovered the ball. Nick Hertwig ripped off 15 yards on the first play, and Bo Krueger rumbled 19 yards for a touchdown. After Willy Reynolds ran in the 2-point conversion, Gillett was up 8-0 just 39 seconds into the game.

The Gillett defense forced Wausaukee to punt, and the Tigers scored on just three plays. Wausaukee answered with a touchdown, but Gillett came right back.

Delfosse, who finished the game with four touchdowns and four 2-point conversion passes, took control.

Wausaukee cut its deficit to 20-14 at halftime. The Rangers came out in the second half and Delfosse orchestrated a 12-play, 51-yard drive, capped by a sneak from 1-yard out to give Wausaukee its first lead at 22-20.

The Rangers added two more rushing scores from Delfosse to go up 38-20 and added a late touchdown by Danny Myrick.

Gillett outgained Wausaukee 299-297 yards for the game.

Krueger was Gillett’s leading rusher with 99 yards on 21 carries and a score. Hertwig added 52 yards on 10 carries. Herzog finished 2-for-6 passing for 96 yards with two touchdowns and two interceptions.

Despite the loss, Gillett still has a shot at advancing to the Jamboree. The top four teams from both the north and south areas qualify.

“We win out, we’ve got a chance,” Witcraft said. “If we don’t, then you know what, we had good season and we’re going to keep working.”

The Tigers will have their biggest test of the season Friday when they travel to conference leader Sevastopol. The Pioneers are off to a 6-1 start, 6-0 in the MONLPC-8.

“We want to give Sevastopol a good run, hopefully,” Witcraft said.

Wausaukee 38, Gillett 26

Team 1 2 3 4 F

Wausaukee 6 8 8 14 38

Gillett 20 0 0 6 26

First quarter

G: Krueger 19-yard run (conversion good) 8-0 (11:21).

G: Herzog 60-yard pass to Anderson (conversion missed) 14-0 (6:58).

W: Delfosse 45-yard pass to C. Shigouri (conversion missed) 14-6 (3:47).

G: Herzog 36-yard pass to Anderson (conversion missed) 20-6 (0:33).

Second quarter

W: Unferth 9-yard run (conversion good) 20-14 (8:52).

Third quarter

W: Delfosse 1-yard run (conversion good) 22-20 (8:47).

Fourth quarter

W: Delfosse 7-yard run (conversion good) 30-20 (9:14).

W: Delfosse 9-yard run (conversion good) 38-20 (6:09).

G: Myrick 4-yard run (PAT missed) 38-26 (1:06).