November 3, 2023 at 12:10 p.m.

Pointers come close but Redbirds score to advance

By Matthew Goninen

Last Friday Night, the Mineral Point Football Team’s Season came to an end with a 7-0 loss to the Darlington Redbirds in Level 2 of the WIAA Playoffs.

Mineral Point would kick the ball off to Darlington to begin the game. The Redbirds would move the chains once before bringing Maddox Goebel on to punt the ball away to Mineral Point. Mineral Point would go three and out on their first drive, punting the ball back to Darlington.

On their next drive, Breylin Goebel would find Maddox Goebel through their air to move the chains. Later in the drive, Jacob Phillips would bring Tye Crist down behind the line of scrimmage. On fourth down, Bryce Vamstad would knock the pass intended for Will Murray to the ground.

The Mineral Point offense would use the good field position to put together a long drive. Vamstad would pull down an eight yard pass, and Sporle would run for the first down. On two straight third-down plays, Sporle would scramble to move the chains.

Beginning the second quarter inside the red zone, Reid Acherman would carry the ball to the four-yard line. However, the Redbird defense would get a tackle for loss and a sack to force third and goal on the 16-yard line. While Sporle would find Landon Thousand at the 7-yard line on third and goal, the Pointers would not find the endzone on fourth down, as Sporle’s pass would be tipped and intercepted by Ross Crist.

“We can’t miss on opportunities,” head coach Justin Leonard said. “When you’ve got first and goal on the four, you need to find a way to punch it in. While the effort was good all around, we had some turnovers and drops that ended up hurting us.”

The Redbird offense also put together a long drive, including many strong runs by Tye Crist and Maddox Goebel. On second and 10 at the 33-yard line, Crist would break free for a 14-yard gain; however, a critical holding penalty would move the Redbirds back. The third down snap would sail over Breylin Goebel’s head, and the Redbirds would punt the ball away. The game would remain tied 0-0 at halftime.

The Pointers would go three and out to begin the third quarter. Connor Larson would muff the punt reception, but would land on it. The Darlington offense would pick up where it left off, running the ball with ease. Darlington capped off the drive with a one-yard keeper by Breylin Goebel to score the only touchdown of the game. Denilo Ramos-Godoy would connect on the PAT to make the Darlington lead 7-0.

Late in the third, Sporle would find Bryce Vamstad for a 25-yard gain. A personal foul on the Redbirds would move the ball deep into Redbird territory. While the fourth down pass to Landon Thousand would be completed across the line to gain, Reagan Jackson would punch the ball out, and Dante Glendenning would return the ball 32 yards for the Redbirds. 

With just under 10 minutes to play, Denlio Ramos-Godoy would miss a 29-yard field goal try for Darlington, giving Mineral Point another opportunity. However, the Pointers would punt the ball right back to Darlington. Mineral Point would get the ball back following a fumble by Reagan Jackson, but the Pointers would punt again. Back on offense one final time, Sporle would lose the ball on a sack-fumble, and Darlington would win the game 7-0.

“Our guys were ready to play, but we just came up a little short,” Coach Leonard added. “We can be a competitive program every year. We have a great coaching staff and great buy-in from our players. That’s what made us successful. I’m looking forward to more success moving forward.”

The Pointers finished the season with a record of 7-4, including a 6-1 finish in SWAL play.