|11/8/2019 3:31:00 PM|
Buffaloes will present the next obstacles in Pointers' run
The best way to handle a three hour and 20 minute bus ride home is to celebrate a win along the route.
It will take some doing but if all the tumblers of the universe click into place the Mineral Point football team could be the ones celebrating. But in order to do that they have to find a way past a very good Mondovi team.
With the Pointers surviving a gallant effort from Lancaster Friday for a 35-28 win on a last minute score and Mondovi hosting Darlington on Saturday Pointer coach Andy Palzkill was able to see the Buffaloes first hand.
"I was able to make the trip up on Saturday to catch their game with Darlington," Palzkill said. "Mondovi is a very talented team and they have great size. We expect them to try and establish the running game. We also expect them to play us in 34 front. In order to earn a win at this time of year, we will have to play better than we have played all season. Mondovi will expect to win the game and it will take a team effort with all 11 players on the field doing their jobs to beat them. We are excited for this opportunity and happy to be preparing for a football game this week."
This is the second time in recent years the Pointers have gotten to Level 3 since their trip to the state tournament under legendary coach Ron Murphy. The Pointers made it to Level 3 in 2010 under coach Tom Steger where they lost to Bangor.
This year's Pointer squad is the only one in Pointer history to record 10 wins and earning the 11th took a come from behind team effort to get it done. The Pointers had to take down one of the state's top programs to do it.
The last time Mineral Point and Lancaster met it was the Pointers easing to a 33-7 win which gave the Flying Arrows their first loss of the season and gave the MP squad the undisputed SWAL title.
This time it took a pair of late touchdowns by Will Straka to get the Pointers past the Arrows 35-28. Lancaster held the lead the entire first half which made this a different game.
"Lancaster did a great job of moving some personnel around and giving us a different defensive look," Palzkill said. "We knew they would make some changes, but it was hard to identify what those changes would be until the game began. Probably the best move they made was putting Caden Straka at the nose tackle position in the 34 they ran defensively on Friday night. They moved him around and he is a great defender that we needed to be aware of all night. Based on their front and where they lined up certain kids, we were able to get into a rhythm in the second half that allowed us to be successful offensively."
Besides the Arrows the Pointers had to contend with leaving the friendly confines of Mineral Point Stadium as they moved the game to UW-Platteville's Butch Lietl field because of wet field conditions.
"Based on the weather predictions last week, we assumed that playing at home would lead to us damaging our field and potentially injuring athletes from both schools," said Palzkill. "We secured the option to play at UW-Platteville early in the week and decided to take advantage of it after the second snowfall of the week. I don't think the turf affected the game plan......but playing on a muddy field most certainly would have affected the game plan for Lancaster and Mineral Point. In the end, I think we made a good decision to use a local facility that allowed for the game to be played the way that did not impact the game plan for Lancaster or Mineral Point."
Lancaster scored at the 8:12 mark of the first quarter when Dawson Bowen finished off an Arrow drive with a one yard plunge and Isaac Oyen kicked the conversion.
The Arrows added to that score on a quick pass at 9:51 in the second quarter that connected Preston Noethe with quarterback Hayden Knapp that went for a 74 yard score. Oyen's conversion made it 14-0.
The Pointers answered with a five yard score from Blaise Watters at 6:52 and Hanson added the extra point to set the score at 14-7.
The Arrows answered quickly when Corey Hahn sprinted 56 yards to score and Oyen kicked the conversion and a 21-7 lead. It appeared the Arrows would take that score into halftime.
But Palzkill and company had other ideas.
With many teams taking a knee to run out the clock and regroup, Palzkill took another approach with the result a 79 yard pass play, Isaac Lindsey to Dominik McVay with two ticks on the clock to slice into the lead and make it a 21-13 difference at intermission.
"As an offensive coordinator, I am typically more aggressive than conservative," Palzkill explained. "Sometimes it does make sense to slow things down and get to halftime but the situation on Friday night was not that type of scenario and we needed to take advantage of the coverage they were giving us. On first down we missed a good opportunity and then on second down we were able to deliver a pass to Dominick McVay for a huge score. That touchdown allowed us to go into halftime with the momentum and have the necessary energy to turn the game around in the second half."
The Pointers did just that, starting with a 15 yard touchdown from Will Straka and a two point conversion pass, Lindsey to Grant Bossert that tied the game at 3:32 of the third quarter.
Lancaster was not ready to settle and scored at the 10:11 mark when Bowen stepped in from the one and Oyen kicked the extra point for a 28-21 lead.
But the lead did not stick thanks to some late heroics by Straka. He helped the Pointers knot things up with 6:43 left with a 14 yard run and Hanson's conversion.
Then, with 41 seconds left, he fought his way in from the 10 for the winning score and Hanson's kick made it 35-28.
Thanks to the late first half touchdown and a belief that the fat lady was not ready to sing, the Pointers set thier minds right for their second half comeback.
"Our players are very positive young men and, although they were disappointed at halftime, they realized that we did not play well in terms of fundamentals," Palzkill explained. "They also recognized that Lancaster was the more physical team in the first half. Our basic adjustments for the second half were to get back to our fundamental technique on the defensive side of the ball and to plain and simply bring more energy and emotion as a team. Once we began to play good team football, we began to see the success and results that we have become accustomed to seeing this season."
Palzkill felt the win to advance is a credit to the entire Pointer roster.
"It was true TEAM win," Palzkill emphasized. "Defensively, we had great run support from the secondary and I felt that Grant Bossert and Grady Gorgen did a wonderful job at the safety positions. Nolan Springer continues to play well at strong side linebacker and also at defensive end in our odd front. I also feel that the defensive line continues to give us great effort. Justin Baehler is earning more time there and is a compliment to Larry Steffes and Mitchell Aurit. We are also fortunate to continue getting great play from Gabe Sporle and Mason Hughes. "
"On the offensive side, we were able to make enough plays to win the game," Palzkill continued. "Will Straka did a great job running to the perimeter and I need to make sure that I get the ball to Will more this week. I also thought our receivers all made big contributions at different times that led to scoring drives. I am very proud of Isaac who worked through a challenging game and just continued to make plays for us. Lastly, Dominik and Blaise found a way to score for us and these two have really developed as weapons on offense."
Palzkill summarized the game by talking about its difficulty.
"It was a game in which everything did not go just right for the Pointers," he said. "Despite some adversity, we were able to stay focused and get back to our type of football game. In the second half, I felt like we dominated the game with the exception of the halfback pass. It was a good learning experience in that we will need to play a full game at a high level to win against teams like Mondovi."
Now it is on to Mondovi for the Pointers in their quest to play at Camp Randall in the state finals. It is also a time to make a statement about the way the seeding for the post season shook out.
"We have shared the trip itinerary with the athletes as of Monday," Palzkill said about the start of preparations. "I just want them to know the logistics of the trip so that we are not asking questions about that, but instead focused on the football game. A few weeks ago, we felt like we were deserving of the number one seed. This is a great opportunity to prove that we were deserving of that seed position. Even with the travel, I feel that our young men understand the significance of this situation and will be ready to play at a high level on Friday night."
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