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Copenhaver, Kroeplin lead solid list of Gilman award winners

Copenhaver, Kroeplin lead solid list of Gilman award winners Copenhaver, Kroeplin lead solid list of Gilman award winners


If the 2019 football season was the final one for Gilman in the CloverWood Conference, the Pirates will be able to say they left it with a bang.

After a second-place finish and a run into Level 3 of the WIAA’s Division 7 football playoffs, the 9-3 Pirates put three players in five positions on the 2019 All-CloverWood first team, which was announced Monday, and added two of the top individual honors as Robin Rosemeyer and Tom Tallier were voted the conference’s Head Coach and Assistant Coach of the Year.

Senior Brad Copenhaver finishes his fine football career with two-way firstteam honors on the offensive and defensive lines. He also was Gilman’s lone Wisconsin Football Coaches Association All-Region honoree, making the Region 2 Small School list for his play on defense.

Junior Kade Kroeplin is a two-way first-team selection at running back and defensive back, while senior linebacker Kirklan Thompson is the third member of Gilman’s top-ranked CloverWood defense to make the first team.

Senior Gabe Gunderson made both second teams for his play at quarterback and linebacker. Senior Ethan Grunseth is a second-team defensive lineman, while senior Joe Olson is a second-team offensive lineman and junior Brayden Boie is a second-team running back.

Honorable mention goes to senior defensive back Ethan Person, sophomore tight end Bryson Keepers and sophomore linebacker Julian Krizan.

Under Rosemeyer and Tallier, the Pirates were able to navigate their way through what wound up being a 12-game season despite having a roster of just 18 players. After some early injuries and an 0-2 start in conference play, Gilman rattled off seven straight wins before running into the Edgar juggernaut in the Division 7 quarterfinals.

CloverWood Conference statistics showed Gilman easily led the league in total defense, allowing just 172.4 yards per game while going 5-2 in conference play. The Pirates allowed just 686 rushing yards in their seven conference games, 532 fewer than the second-best rush defense from Loyal.

Offensively, Gilman averaged 356.4 yards per league game, which ranked second behind undefeated Abbotsford (384.9). With holes opened by blockers such as Copenhaver, Olson and Keepers and solid pass protection, Gilman’s 1,782 rushing yards in conference play trailed only the Falcons (2,434) and their 713 passing yards ranked second behind Thorp (1,029).

Copenhaver, a guard, earned a firstteam offense award for the second straight year. The second-team honor for Olson, a tackle, is his first-ever All-CloverWood football honor. Defensively, Copenhaver took a big jump from his honorable mention season of 2018, compiling 62 total tackles from his defensive tackle position. He forced three fumbles, recovered two fumbles and had two sacks during the season. He had a season-high nine tackles in a 27-0 week-two win over Flambeau.

Copenhaver joins Stratford’s Ben Barten, Manawa’s Deion Stroud Almond- Bancroft’s Daniel Baumgartner, Kewaunee’s Tanor Bortolini and Henry Theisen of Eau Claire Regis as the All-Region defensive linemen. Small schools from Region 2 come from the Clover-Wood, Cloverbelt, Central Wisconsin Large and Small, Marawood and MONLPC Large and Small conferences.

Thompson, an outside linebacker, recorded 61 total tackles during the season. He had one interception in league play, which he returned 53 yards in a 27-0 win over Thorp on Sept. 27 and had a forced fumble this year. Thompson had season highs of 12 tackles in a 50-0 season-opening win over Crandon and 10 tackles in a 54-0 win over Owen-Withee in week five.

Kroeplin finished the season with 71 total tackles, including 14 in a week-four 32-13 loss to Abbotsford and nine in a 4321 week-eight win at Athens.

Gunderson’s first All-CloverWood defensive award follows a season where he racked up 81 total tackles and two forced fumbles from his inside linebacker spot. Gunderson had season highs of nine tackles against Crandon and Almond-Bancroft. Grunseth was one of the Pirates’ top tacklers from his defensive end position with 92 total stops. He had two sacks and a fumble recovery. He hit double digits in tackles three times, including 12 at Athens, 11 against Crandon and 10 in the playoff loss at Edgar.

Krizan is showing all the traits of becoming Gilman’s next tackling machine at inside linebacker. He finished the year with 108 total stops in 11 games, an average of 9.8 per game. Krizan led Gilman with eight quarterback sacks and recovered three fumbles. Person had 61 tackles from his cornerback position and intercepted one pass in the win over Owen-Withee on Sept. 20. He also forced a fumble and recovered one during the season. Notably, Person also caught 14 passes on the offensive side for 247 yards.

Though he didn’t get an All-Clover- Wood defensive award, Boie forced five fumbles and recovered seven during the 12-game season while notching 63 total tackles.

Offensively, Kroeplin ranked ninth in conference rushing with 502 yards in 81 attempts and ranked fifth in scoring with 68 points on eight touchdowns, seven two-point conversions and six extra-point kicks. He was a dual threat out of the backfield, ranking third in the conference with 14 pass receptions. He gained 277 yards on those catches and scored three times.

Overall, Kroeplin rushed for 876 yards on 135 carries (6.5 per attempt) and nine touchdowns in 12 games and he caught 18 passes for 340 yards and three touchdowns. He twice ran for 110 yards in a game, first in the season opener against Crandon and again in a 64-0 week-seven win over Assumption. He caught four All-CloverWood

passes for 104 yards and a score in a 26-20 overtime loss at Greenwood.

Kroeplin also averaged a CloverWoodbest 41.4 yards per kickoff on nine attempts and ranked second by averaging 14.5 yards per punt return.

Boie wasn’t far behind Kroeplin in rushing statistics. In conference play, he ranked 11th with 447 yards on 61 carries (7.3 per attempt) and scored five times. Overall, he rushed for 692 yards on 104 attempts (6.7 per carry) with nine touchdowns and he caught five passes for 35 yards. He had 114 yards on 10 carries and three rushing touchdowns in the Pirates’ win over Assumption and 83 yards on 14 carries and three touchdowns in their 35-15 Level 2 playoff win at Almond-Bancroft, who had come into the game with a 10-0 record.

Gunderson, the first-team All-Clover-Wood quarterback last year, had an improved season at the position. It was just hard to ignore the monster year Abbotsford’s Dalton Feddick had at the position, which gave him the Offensive Player of the Year award. Feddick ran for 979 yards and 15 touchdowns in league play, while throwing for 248 yards and five more touchdowns.

Gunderson ranked second in the league in passing yardage, completing 44 of 91 passes in CloverWood games for 704 yards, seven touchdowns and five interceptions. Only Thorp freshman Aiden Rosemeyer (985) threw for more yards. Greenwood’s Cooper Bredlau was a distant third with 465 yards. Gunderson also ran for 383 yards in league play on 68 attempts (5.6 per attempt) and 10 touchdowns. His 60 points ranked sixth in the conference.

Overall, Gunderson completed 67 of 133 passes (51.1%) for 1,080 yards, 10 touchdowns and seven interceptions, while rushing for 469 yards on 107 attempts and 13 touchdowns.

Keepers had a big sophomore season at tight end, catching 17 passes overall for 225 yards and four touchdowns. He ranked fourth in the conference with 13 receptions in league play. They went for 164 yards and three touchdowns. He had three catches for 44 yards in a big 20-0 week-nine win over Loyal that clinched second place in the final standings. He had three catches for 35 yards and a score in the team’s win over Thorp.

Keepers had two interceptions defensively in Gilman’s 24-6 Level 1 playoff win over Pittsville.

The Pirates and Greenwood Indians are leaving the CloverWood Conference to play in the WIAA’s eight-man football program for at least the next two seasons. Both will join what is called the Central Region. Gilman will join a six-team conference that includes New Auburn, Alma Center Lincoln, Bruce, McDonell Central and Phillips. Greenwood joins the region other conference, which features Port Edwards, 2019 state runner-up Newman Catholic, Tri-County, Bowler-Gresham and Marion-Tigerton. Those leagues will play crossover games.

Abbotsford, Athens, Owen-Withee and Thorp from the CloverWood will be blended with Colby, Auburndale, Marathon and Edgar to form a new conference, while Loyal and Assumption are being moved to the Central Wisconsin Small Conference next fall.