By Brian Kalish
September 20, 2019
WAUSAU– With just 46 seconds left on the clock in the fourth quarter of the fabled Log Game at Thom Field in Wausau, the Wausau West Warriors’ offense lined up with a first and goal at the two yard line after senior Marc Sippel had just gashed Wausau East’s defense for a 26-yard gain.
Instead of trying to ram it in the end zone against a down-trodden Lumberjacks’ defense, quarterback Garrett Richardt took the snap, stepped back and kneeled.
That kneel down– perhaps the most mundane play in all of football– may have been the sweetest play the Warriors have run this season.
With it, the clock ran out, and Wausau West not only notched their first win of the 2019 campaign by the final score of 28-14, they also exorcised the demon of losing to Wausau East in the Log Game just one year ago.
“This is huge,” said Sippel, who got an early present with his birthday coming up on Sunday. “We proved to everyone– we knew we were a good football team, but we needed to show everyone else how great we can be. Tonight was the first step in a great rest of the season.”
The outcome of this game was never truly in doubt as the Warriors executed an absolutely masterful plan on defense and produced one big play after another on offense.
Sippel opened the scoring for the Warriors late in the first quarter, pounding the ball in from two yards to cap a five minute, 64-yard drive by the Warriors.
That drive– and the resulting touchdown– was just a sign of things to come as the Warriors’ punishing ground game wore out their cross-town rivals.
Leading the way on the ground for West was sophomore Colton Geurink. The stout running back rolled up a game-high 176 yards, highlighted by a one-yard touchdown run in the third quarter that put the Warriors up 21-7.
Not bad for a player making his debut as a featured back.
“It was kind of his coming out party,” said West coach Jason Foster. “He’s just a sophomore and obviously Brennan Goralski is our guy and we lost him week one. So we’ve kind of been searching a little bit… We knew what Colton’s capable of. He’s been playing a lot of H-back and not getting a lot of carries for us. Colton, honestly, did exactly what we expected him to do. We see it every day in practice. We saw it last year on the freshman team. We’re super proud and obviously very excited moving forward.”
Geurink credited his offensive line for providing him room to run.
“They really opened up the holes,” Geurink said. “They let me run through it and then get to the safety and just keep on going.”
While Geurink was off to the races and the Warriors’ offense seemed to be more or less firing on all cylinders, the Lumberjacks’ offense couldn’t find any traction. Aside from an electrifying 97-yard kickoff return by Donovan Leverete to cap the first quarter, East struggled mightily to gain yards on offense.
“I’ll tell you what we weren’t doing,” said East coach Kevin Grundy. “We weren’t executing. We weren’t executing like we should.”
East had a glimmer of hope after Leverete scored his second touchdown of the game, darting in from three yards out early in the fourth quarter. After stopping West on its first drive of the fourth quarter, the Lumberjacks found themselves in a fourth and six situation on the Warriors’ 33 yard line.
It was do or die for the Lumberjacks.
Unfortunately for East fans, the play broke down and West’s Chue Yang came up with a sack to effectively put the game on ice.
It was just one in a number of huge defensive plays for the Warriors, who did an exceptional job of bottling up the dangerous Leverete for nearly the entire game.
“Our defensive line was so disciplined up front,” said Foster. “When all eleven guys are doing their job and we’ve got an extra guy in the box, that really seemed to make a difference.”
West proved it wasn’t a one trick pony on offense, getting two highlight-reel passing touchdowns from Garrett Richardt. One went to Logan White from 14 yards out and the other was a beautifully placed 31-yard strike to Maxwell Helke.
The complete effort by the Warriors will give them some momentum as they square off against D.C. Everest in another cross-town rivalry situation next week, while East looks to rebound as they square off against Medford.
1st Quarter: WW Sippel 2 yd run; WE Leverete 97 yard kickoff return
2nd Quarter: WW Richardt pass to Helke 31 yards
Third Quarter: WW Geurink 1 yd run, Richardt pass to White 14 yd
Fourth Quarter: WE Leverete 3 yd run