One year ago, Ellsworth was on the playoff bubble in their last game of the season. Their opponent? Osceola. The Panthers were shut out in that matchup, ending their season and extending their losing streak to the Chieftains to seven games.
On Friday, Ellsworth avenged last season's loss and put an emphatic end to the losing streak with a 28-12 victory over Osceola.
"I’m always going to take a win against Osceola, they are well coached," Ellsworth head football coach Rob Heller said.
Ellsworth got on the scoreboard first after Mason Anderson completed a 55-yard touchdown pass to Jack Janke to give the Panthers a 7-0 lead midway through the first quarter. Osceola responded with a 33-yard touchdown run of its own but failed on the two-point conversion.
Four minutes into the second quarter, Ellsworth struck again. The means of scoring was much of the same — a 20-yard receiving touchdown via the connection of Anderson and Janke. Once again, however, Osceola had a response. Two minutes before halftime, the Chieftains scored on a 3-yard touchdown run. Osceola again failed on the two-point conversion and went into the half trailing Ellsworth, 14-12.
In the second half, Ellsworth's defense clamped down on Osceola. Not only did the Panthers come up with key third- and fourth-down stops, they forced Osceola into multiple turnovers.
Ellsworth took advantage of their strong second-half defensive performance to add 14 unanswered points to complete the 28-12 victory. Ashten Quaide scored both of Ellsworth's second-half touchdowns. The first coming from one yard out, the second a 53-yard touchdown run.
"The kids made some good halftime adjustments," Heller said. "One of the things we’ve done in the past is let teams hang around. We didn’t let them do that."
Ellsworth remained fairly balanced throughout the game, passing the ball 19 times to go along with 34 rushing attempts.
Anderson went 14-of-19 for 239 yards and two touchdowns to lead the passing attack. Janke had five catches for 91 yards and two touchdowns, while Ryan Matzek caught three passes for 71 yards.
Quaide led the rushing attack with 168 yards on 19 carries for two touchdowns. Shane Lange also had a strong game with 47 yards on 10 carries.
On defense, Jurell Gooden led the team with 8.5 tackles, followed by Lange and Ian Matzek with 7.5 tackles each. Quaide and Janke also recorded interceptions.
If there was one area in which the Panthers will need to improve, it's in the penalty department. Ellsworth was called for 12 infractions, resulting in 105 free yards for Osceola.
"I think every one of our lineman were called for a hold so there's only so much credit I'll give them for blocking so well. We need to get rid of those penalties," Heller said. "We had some players with some great games though. Quaide had a great game. Mason had a hell of a game. Defensively, Jurell Gooden, Ryan Matzek and Ian Matzek were leading tacklers."
Ellsworth, 1-0, travels to Prescott, 0-1, next Friday.
Baldwin-Woodville 34, Prescott 13
Prescott wasn't quite sure what to expect in its first game of the season. The Cardinals are breaking in a first-year head coach in Jordan Hansen, who is also installing a new offense. That offense is wildly different from last year as well. The Cardinals spent much of 2019 out of the gun. This year? Under the center running the triple option. So it was fair for Hansen to be unsure of how the first-game results would shake out.
Prescott got the answer it sought on Friday, even though it wasn't exactly what they were hoping for — a 34-13 loss at the hands of Baldwin-Woodville.
Baldwin-Woodville built its lead early, opening up a 20-0 lead in the first half of play. However, Prescott got into a groove in the second half and went toe-for-toe with the Blackhawks with both teams scoring two touchdowns.
The Cardinals got on the board early in the second half with a 2-yard touchdown run by Grant Stanton to trim the deficit to 20-7.
"We had the momentum early in the second half," Hansen said. "Our kids didn’t quit. We had a big kick return to open the half and then punched it in. We made a big defensive stop in the next possession but then fumbled and they scored."
That fumble and resulting score led to 14-unanswered points for Baldwin-Woodville which gave them a 34-7 lead with less than five minutes to play.
Stanton scored his second touchdown of the night with a minute and a half to go to end the game's scoring.
Stanton led the Cardinals offensively with 121 yards on 22 carries. He also went 1-of-3 passing for 13 yards and an interception. Aiden Russell was the team's second offensive leader with 39 yards on 10 carries. He also caught Stanton's lone completion.
Russell was the defensive leader as he finished with 6.5 tackles and one sack. Austin Fox had six tackles, while Mason Bartsch also recorded a sack.
"We have some things to build on. We played well defensively, just gave up some third-and-longs," Hansen said. "Grant held his composure really well and our line played really physical."
Clear Lake 26, Elmwood/Plum City 14
Elmwood/Plum City opened its season with a home game against Clear Lake — a team it hadn't beaten since 2016. The winless streak continued for the Wolves, as they lost 28-14 on Friday.
E/PC was the first to find the end zone as Luke Webb scored on a 12-yard run just under five minutes into the first quarter to give the Wolves an early 6-0 lead. Clear Lake then proceeded to score four unanswered touchdowns to build a 26-6 lead.
The Wolves struck once more with seven seconds left in the game, as Trevor Asher scored from two yards out. Webb was successful on the two-point conversion to trim the deficit down to 26-14.
Asher was the workhorse for the Wolves carrying the ball 35 times for 221 yards. Webb accounted for 13 carries and 21 yards. He also threw four passes, none of which were complete and two were intercepted.
On defense, Paul Schwebach led E/PC with 5.5 tackles and one tackle for loss.
As a team, E/PC held the advantage in time of possession, first downs, third down efficiency and total yardage. Turnovers are what plagued the Wolves as they fumbled twice in addition to the two interceptions. Clear Lake meanwhile didn't turn the ball over once.
E/PC, 0-1, travels to Cadott, 0-1, next Friday.