The Lake Country Chiefs’ season came to an end on Saturday afternoon at Arrowhead, with four good games against teams from Hartford. We saw the conclusion of a perfect season, two good games under the lights and a group of kids that saw their hard work pay off with a great ending to the year. And the Chiefs swept all four…
Last week, the kids of 6th Grade Blue got a breakthrough win, where after a season of some tough losses, they put it all together and saw their work pay off with a “W.” The kids liked it so much they went out and did it again to end the season with a decisive 20-6 win.
J.J. Smerz, whose speed and body control were on such display last week, immediately put his mark on this game. A 3rd-and-5 swing pass was a hair behind Smerz, but he grabbed it, quickly regained his balance and picked up a first down at the Hartford 30. Blake Meyers then made two straight good runs to put it inside the 20. Nicholas Vondrak was the next line for the ball and he pushed it down to the 1-yard line, where the drive was finished off.
All the key plays in this drive went to the left side, where Zach Schlegel and Brady Riphenburg were clearing space, and Lake Country had a 6-0 lead with 2:37 left in the first quarter. They quickly doubled that margin after a defensive stand set up Smerz on a well-designed reverse play that he took in from 18 yards out.
It was a 12-0 game at halftime, and after spending the first half going to the left side, the Chiefs went right early in the third quarter. It was a swing pass to Smerz and there was all kinds of daylight in front of him as he rolled into the end zone to complete a 50-yard scoring play. The PAT was converted and now it was a 20-0 game.
Hartford got a long kickoff return and was poised to try and get back into the game. On a 4th-and-3 play, Vondrak made an excellent read on a swing pass and was there right with the ball to bust the play up and give the ball back to the Chiefs.
The Orioles would eventually get a long touchdown run to make the final score 20-6, but there were less than two minutes in the game by that point. It was a great win for Lake Country, and it would be remiss not to give a shoutout to the Chiefs’ defensive line, which maintained absolute control of the point of attack throughout–Vondrak, Mason Carnell and Karan Sherman led the way in keeping the Hartford off balance.
6th Grade Blue’s kids worked really hard for everything they had this season, and they get to go into the offseason with a very good taste in their mouth.
Another team that’s heading into the offseason with a nice taste in their mouth will be 6th Grade White. They got a stiff challenge from a determined Hartford team, but with their 22-6 victory, 6th Grade White wrapped up a perfect 8-0 season.
Hartford took advantage of a defensive penalty that kept their first drive alive and used a consistent, grinding running attack to get the ball down to about the Lake Country 20. The Chiefs’ defense held, but the Orioles had used up all but 21 seconds of the first quarter.
Lake Country then showed that maybe time of possession is an overrated statistic. Max Berres tossed a swing pass to Joshua Nielsen, who rumbled 60 yards for a touchdown on the Chiefs’ first play from scrimmage. Hartford had 7:39 of possession time and Lake Country had 0:15, but the score that mattered said 8-0 Chiefs.
The ensuing kickoff added to the strange nature of the first quarter–Hartford ran the kickoff back for a touchdown. They didn’t convert the PAT, but were within 8-6.
Both defenses stiffened in the second quarter, and the third quarter saw some turnovers exchanged. There was a great battle taking place on the edges when the Chiefs had the ball. Lake Country repeatedly pressed the outside where its playmakers could make a game-changing play, and Hartford’s kids fought to keep everything inside.
It was the latter part of the third quarter that the edge finally cracked. With the Chiefs’ facing 4th-and-12 on the Hartford 43, Nielsen broke several tackles, got the first down and then a facemask penalty was added in. One play later, Coleton Borkewicz took it in for the touchdown and it was a 14-6 game.
As the fourth quarter wore on, the Chiefs’ undefeated season became secure, as even with a touchdown and two-point kick, the most Hartford could do was tie. But 6th Grade White had perfection in their grasp and they didn’t let it slip away. The Orioles got the ball near midfield with five minutes for what would be their last, best chance. But on 3rd-and-12, the entire Chiefs’ defensive front got to the quarterback for a sack and then closed out the possession on fourth down.
A 4th-and-1 play with 1:32 left provided the icing on the kick. Nielsen rolled around the left side for a clinching touchdown, Borkewicz kicked the two-point PAT and the perfect season was complete.
Nightfall came, the lights of Taraska Stadium went on, and the 7th & 8th Grade White teams each won good, hard-fought football games.
In the seventh grade game, Hartford recovered a surprise onside kick to open the game, but the Lake Country defense made sure it didn’t stand up. Seth Fohey then took the ball on an inside handoff and bolted the distance…but they play was called back on a penalty. Fohey, undeterred, got it again a couple plays later, and made a big play to get his team into scoring position. The Chiefs chipped away to get inside the 5-yard line, where Jonathan Witter then took it in for the game’s first score.
After a defensive stand, the offense again marched down the field, and this time it was Nic Wohlfiel who ran it from seven yards out. The Chiefs took a 12-zip lead into the halftime break.
Hartford didn’t quit though, and late in the third quarter put together a drive that looked like it might stall when they faced 3rd-and-14 on the 25-yard line. The quarter ended just prior to the play and everyone changed sides. The Orioles converted the play into a touchdown, and were then able to run in the PAT conversion for a huge point that made it a 12-7 game and meant the Chiefs could no longer allow a touchdown.
The Orioles tried an onside kick, but this time the Chiefs were ready. What ensued was a clutch drive that was an ideal way to end the season. Wohlfiel, a very talented young passer and runner had the ball put in his hands to try and seal his team’s final victory. He got the blocking and he seized the moment, repeatedly running quarterback draws that ground out yardage and drained the clock.
No run was bigger than his 4th-and-10 dash up the middle from the 25-yard line that picked up a first down with less than five minutes to play. One play later, Wohlfiel finished the job with a 14-yard touchdown run, and a Fohey extra point clinched a 20-7 win. It was the end to a good year for Brenton Carr’s team, who concluded with a 6-2 record.
The finale of the night was the 8th Grade White game and it was apparent early on that the Chiefs–who came in with a 6-1 record, and gotten most of the wins by large margins–would have a battle on their hands. Hartford hit a halfback option pass on the first possession, and used another quick pass to get to the Lake Country 18-yard line before anyone was even settled into the game. But the Chiefs’ defense held, Hartford missed a field goal and the game remained scoreless.
Lake Country’s offense then took over, with a lot of players getting in on the act. Chandler Pulvermacher picked up one first down. Jeff Holtz ran for another. John Dolesche moved the chains for the third time.
On 4th-and-2 from the Hartford 28 the ball went to Pulvermacher, on a play where the Hartford defense had at least two good cracks at him before he got the first-down marker. But Pulvermacher, a deadly combination of size, speed and determination, broke the tackles, used a nasty stiff-arm to get himself in the clear and ended the play in the end zone. It was 6-0 as the first quarter came to a close.
Hartford had its own talented skill player to counter with though, and Richard Smith was an anxiety-creating player every time he touched the football. One of those times was a 68-yard jaunt for a touchdown that tied the game early in the second quarter.
Pulvermacher countered with a long, slashing run deep into Hartford territory that set up another touchdown. Then it was Smith’s turn to take a swing pass and pick up 35 yards. With the second quarter winding down, Lake Country came up with a big sack, but Hartford was able to salvage a 37-yard field goal that bounced off the crossbar and over. It was 12-9 at the half.
The Hartford special teams made a great play to open the second half, with a good hit creating a fumble. Even though Dolesche made a big sack that looked like it might bail out the Chiefs, Smith ran a nice post pattern caught the ball in traffic and found the end zone. Now Lake Country trailed 17-12.
With Pulvermacher on the field, you never feel more than one play behind, and that’s how it worked out here. He immediately took the ensuing kickoff back for a touchdown. In a span of one minute and 45 seconds each team had scored, it was 20-17 and everyone was settled in for a big finish.
And a battle was what happened. Hartford seemed to have its offense moving, as they nudged their way the Chiefs’ 36-yard line, but a fumble turned the ball back over. Two plays later, Pulvermacher had taken yet another big play to the house, and extended the lead to 26-17, meaning Hartford needed two scores to take the lead.
On 4th-and-2, the Lake Country defense stopped Hartford and now the clock was decidedly the Chiefs’ ally, as we were into the fourth quarter. The Orioles were able to get the ball back with a little more than five minutes to play, but Carson Radtke made a big third-down sack for a 16-yard loss that all but sealed the game. Lake Country got the ball back with a little over three minutes to play was able to salt away the win.
It was a great day of football, with a sweep for the Chiefs, but every victory coming against a team that put up a good fight. On a chilly October late afternoon and evening, it was the ideal way to head into the offseason.