October 11, 2019
By Scott Williams
MARSHFIELD – Keaton Edwards stood 10 yard in the Marshfield backfield with both hands on top of his helmet.
D.C. Everest defensive backs Demetrio Covarrubias and Owen Latendresse looked at each other in total disbelief.
It’ll take some time for the Evergreens football players and coaches to wrap their minds around the heartbreak that took place at gorgeous Len Luedtke Field on Friday night.
Simon Slade hauled in a 9-yard touchdown pass from Joey Goettl with 29 seconds left in regulation and Marshfield stunned the Evergreens 20-19 with an implausible comeback victory.
The scoring strike capped a 90-yard drive in less than two minutes to clinch the Valley Football Association-West Division championship.
“Our while team is so resilient; it’s crazy,” said Tigers quarterback Goettl, who also ran for a pair of scores. “Nobody had their heads down. Everybody came together as a team. It was perfect. It couldn’t have been better.”
DCE (4-4) had every reason to believe that it would be making plans for a VFA-West championships banner to hang in the school.
A pair of touchdowns runs by quarterback Ethan Ostrowski and a safety from their defense had the Evergreens cruising with a 16-0 lead late in the opening half.
A fourth straight win to become playoff eligible seemed like a foregone conclusion.
Instead, there were nothing but blank stares and hanging heads as the Tigers walked off the field Friday night.
“That was a close one,” said DCE coach Tim Strehlow, who admitted the loss stung. “We just didn’t make enough plays down the stretch and they got us. You have to give credit to Marshfield. They have a good team.”
Everything was going according to plan, or at least Plan B, through three quarters.
With the Tigers keying on bruising running back Delton Zuleger to make sure he didn’t hurt them, Ostrowski was able to find some running room.
He broke free for an 85-yard touchdown in the first quarter and then capped a short drive with a 1-yard plunge.
Ostrowski’s second TD gave DCE a 16-0 lead with 1:16 remaining in the first half. Moments earlier, Goettl was called for intentional grounding in the end zone for a safety.
“(Zuleger) is a big part of our offense, but we just needed other guys to step up,” Strehlow said. “That maybe made us struggle a little bit.”
Ostrowski finished the first half with 102 yards on eight carries. He also accounted for 51 yards through the air – all coming on a strike to Bryan Halambeck.
All the Evergreens could muster in the second half was a 23-yard field goal from Bryce Morris that put them on top 19-7.
A lot of credit goes to Marshfield (5-3) for making yards tough for the Evergreens to come by in the second half.
“Defense wins championships and we just won a conference championship with our defense,” Tigers coach Denny Goettl said. “We got lucky on offense, but you saw what the defense did (in the second half).
“Our defense is just phenomenal. They’re just a bunch of hungry buzzards. They get after you and don’t let you go.”
Then seemingly out of nowhere, Marshfield discovered some magic on offense in the fourth quarter to rip the title from the Evergreens, halt their winning streak and put a playoff berth – for now – on hold.
Slade provided a spark with a 39-yard punt return that set the Tigers up on the DCE 13-yard line. Two plays later, Joey Goettl scored from two yards out to bring them within 19-14.
With the game on the line, the Tigers found a passing attack. Limited to 14 yards through the air, Joey Goettl went 5-for-8 for 87 yards on the game-winning drive.
“I didn’t think it was going to happen to be honest. I’m so glad it did,” Joe Goettl said. “We just had the right mindset. We weren’t going to leave this game losing.”
Strehlow admitted it was tough to find any words that could console his players right after the game.
“I didn’t say too much to the guys,” the Evergreens coach said. “I need to watch the film and see where we can improve and get better. We still have a great opportunity next week.”
DCE will host SPASH in a 7 p.m. kickoff at Stiehm Stadium in the regular season finale in search of a win to qualify for the playoffs.
D.C. Everest 7 9 3 0 – 19
Marshfield 0 7 0 13 – 20
DCE – Ethan Ostrowski 85 run (Bryce Morris kick), 3:41
DCE – Safety, intentional grounding in end zone, 3:52
DCE – Ostrowski 1 run (Morris kick), 1:16
M – Joey Goettl 8 run (Kyle Tremelling kick), :03
DCE – Morris 23 FG, 1:32
M – Goettl 2 run (Tremelling kcik), 10:32
M – Simon Slade 9 pass from Goettl (pass failed), :29