|11/13/2020 2:21:00 PM|
Pec-Argyle football gets into win column, plays finals Friday night
Pecatonica-Argyle's football fortunes took a turn for the better last week and not just once - but twice! And, as readers and anyone following prep sports in Wisconsin and its WIAA directed activities in recent months have discovered, what you read and hear may be true and factual at a moment in time, but all can be reversed and changed on a dime - depending on circumstances and decision-making from health departments and school officials during a COVID-19 Pandemic.
Pecatonica School District Athletic Director Paul Manriquez had announced at the outset of the week (late on Sunday, Nov. 1), that Pec-Argyle's football game slated for Nov. 6 at Ithaca was cancelled - with both of Pec-Argyle's co-op member schools (Argyle and Pecatonica) teams involved in academic building closures of some sort of another due to the COVID-19 pandemic ramifications. He said Pecatonica players had been cleared to practice but acknowledged Argyle athletes out for football would not be able to return to football practice or competition game action until at least Monday, Nov. 9.
But.... as Argyle's District Superintendent, Mike Beranek, confirmed later in the week, Argyle's school closure and its academic shifting to virtual instruction (initiated in the previous week) was more about responding to teaching staff member availability than related to Oriole students having testing positive for COVID-19. Beranek said that in discussions, explaining case prevalence data early in the week with the Lafayette County Health Department, it became clear, via county health department officials, it would be okay to clear the Argyle football athletes to immediately be eligible to return to both practice and game competitions
But, alas, Ithaca High School, by now (mid-week/last week) had responded to Pec-Argyle's request to cancel, and had, subsequently, booked another team (River Ridge) as it's Friday night opponent, leaving the Vikings willing to play Friday... 'if' they could locate a willing gridiron foe.
Pecatonica-Argyle, now feverishly seeking to find an opponent, briefly considered a Nov. 6 match-up with another announced school also searching for a game - (Pacelli Catholic High School in Stevens Point). But, circumstances even closer to home were under way when an early week Cambridge vs. Dodgeland game cancellation request (by the Bluejays) resulted in Dodgeland school representatives quickly reaching out to Pecatonica-Argyle's co-op to ascertain if the Vikings wanted to play Friday?
All became official by Wednesday, Nov. 4 and by Friday, Pec-Argyle players boarded a large motor coach bus from Lamers Transportation and headed out on a 95 mile trip to the northeast, to Juneau. By the time the ball team got back to Argyle and Blanchardville late at night, they had enjoyed their happiest moment and surely the best road trip of this weird, topsy-turvy and ever-changing 2020 football season, having walloped their hosts 49-0.
Both teams arrived Friday with 0-4 records. Pec-Argyle had suffered consecutive losses to Potosi-Cassville (42-7); Boscobel (30-27); River Ridge (28-0); and Highland (35-8). Dodgeland had been defeated by Wisconsin Dells (40-0; Palmyra-Eagle (33-0); Horicon-Hustisford (35-7) and Markesan (68-7) so both teams knew someone would finally be exiting the sidelines with a victory...finally.
It was Green's Pec-Argyle team that would score early and often in this one versus the Trojans and the visitors, in fact, led 30-0 by intermission. Senior back Clay Ritschard scored on an early second quarter, nine yard TD run. On the weirdest of PAT plays, the center's snap on an intended kicking play actually caromed off the helmet of a Viking player, an alert 'would-be' kicker (Ritschard) scooped up the 'still-live' bouncing football and promptly ran it in for two!
"That was one of those plays I'll probably never, ever see again," quipped coach Green following the win.
Alex Gilbertson recovered a Trojan fumble in the end zone for the next PA score, also in the second period. Next, Ritschard scored on a 45 yard TD run and teammate Noah Krahenbuhl's two-point PAT run made the score 22-0. The Vikes would score once more before halftime, this time on a Ritschard 12 yard run and he capped the series on a two-point PAT run. Back for more offensive production following the break, PA would score on quarterback Hunter Enloe's 29 yard TD aerial to receiver Kegun Brunker and Ritschard's PAT kick made the score 37-0. Kaden Hartwig added a two-yard TD run later in the period and later, in the fourth quarter, Skylar Garthwaite scored on a seven yard run, for the Vikings' final score in the 49-0 victory.
"It was our most complete game of the season and the kids were excited about playing from the time the motor coach pulled up at school to transport us to the game," remarked Green.
"On defense, our kids pursued so well tonight, recognized formations, drew on what they'd seen in studying the scouting report and I was pleased with the way they executed fundamentals."
Middle linebacker Sammy Nelson turned in his best game of the season, leading the defense with 12 tackles to go along with 11 apiece by defensive end Mason Svendsen and outside linebacker Alex Gilbertson. Defensive end Clay Ritschard added nine more and teammate Nathan Nickels was in the right place at the right time to snare an interception for the defense.
"On offense, our linemen played really well and opened up holes all night long for our running backs," added Green. "They really blocked together as a group and I told the team afterward this was the best example they'd produced of team football, reaffirming that when you play together, as team, good things happen."
Statistically, senior back Ritschard helped lead the way, enjoying a hugely productive night on offense Friday during the win. Ritschard rushed for 159 yards on 11 carries and he scored three touchdowns. He also recorded a passing aerial, pulling up on a halfback option play and successfully completing a 29 yard toss/catch.
Hartwig finished with 52 yards on nine carries and he had a catch for 15 yards. Kegun Brunker had one carry for 28 yards and had two catches for 58 yards.
Junior quarterback Hunter Enloe finished with two carries for 19 yards and he was three of seven through the air for 46 yards while tossing for one TD and having one interception. In all the Vikings had 290 running yards and 73 passing yards.
Green's ball club will be back in action tomorrow night (Friday, Nov. 13), bussing 90 miles to the northwest for a 7 p.m. football match-up at Hillsboro High School. Hillsboro is winless at 0-5 and were defeated 41-14 No. 6 by Highland
The team's also searching for an 'as-yet' unannounced football opponent for Friday night, November 20. The co-op squad hopes to pick up one final exhibition contest to close out the 2020 season just prior to the Thanksgiving holiday.
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