Pirates set early tone again and roll to victory over Loggers
For the second straight week, the Gilman Pirates set a defensive tone early and a physical tone at the line of scrimmage offensively in securing a one-sided victory.
This time it was the Phillips Loggers who were overwhelmed by the surprising score of 45-0. In their second eightman game, the Pirates were up 32-0 at halftime over a program that was 8-1 last year in its eight-man schedule.
“Once we got that first three-and-out on them defensively, that really set a good tone for the rest of the game,” Gilman head coach Robin Rosemeyer said. “I thought our kids had a good attitude going into the game. In pre-game, everything was pretty sharp. We got off to a good start and I thought we got them on their heels.”
For the second straight week, Gilman held its opponent to just two first downs. The Loggers wound up with 85 total yards while the Pirates rolled up 465, including 371 on the ground.
“They’re getting in their gaps well and making their reads,” Rosemeyer said of the defense. “It’s a good team effort. The secondary is doing their job on pass plays and they’re making tackles in space on the edges. It’s been a good team effort defensively getting it done. It’s nice when the first guy there can make a tackle, or at least slows their kid down. We’re doing a pretty good job of the second guy finishing things off. A lot of times the first guy there is making the tackle. Any time on defense when the first guy makes a tackle, you should be doing pretty well.”
The defense’s first stop came in the opening minutes when Phillips went for it on fourth down from its own 46 and threw an incomplete pass. The Pirates needed just two plays to take advantage, a 13-yard off-tackle run by Kade Kroeplin and then a 33-yard touchdown run by quarterback Julian Krizan.
After another defensive stop, Krizan struck again, scoring on a 30-yard run. Two-point runs by Krizan and Kroeplin following those touchdowns had the Pirates ahead 16-0 less than eight minutes in.
The Pirates’ third possession ended in a 2-yard scoring run for Brayden Boie, who also caught the two-point conversion pass for a 24-0 lead.
Gilman made it a perfect four-for-four on offense when Krizan turned an intended throwback to Kroeplin into a 25- yard scramble for a touchdown. Krizan passed to Branden Ustianowski for the two-point conversion and the 32-point lead with 4:57 still left in the first half.
“It was eight-man football in a nutshell,” Rosemeyer said. “There was a just a lot of space, he made a couple guys miss and we got a couple of good downfield blocks and he scrambled for 25 yards. It was one of those waggle throwbacks where we like to throw it back to Kade against the grain. Three guys went with him, so on one side there were three guys covering him. So now there were only five left.”
Krizan averaged just under 10 yards per carry with 164 yards on 17 attempts.
The Pirates tacked on two more touchdowns in the second half. Ustianowski caught a 6-yard scoring pass from Krizan and Grady Kroeplin added a 9-yard touchdown run in the fourth quarter.
After passing only two times in their season-opening win over Bruce, the Pirates opened things up a little more in this one. Krizan threw 12 times, completing eight for 94 yards. Five different players caught at least one pass.
“We were able to have a different mix as far as kids touching the ball on pass- es, which is nice,” Rosemeyer said. “We have so many different athletes that can do that. That puts a lot of stress on a defense.”
The 2-0 Pirates now start a three-game homestand that starts Friday with a visit from the Alma Center Lincoln Hornets, who have started 1-1.
While Bruce and Phillips based their offenses on their running games, this will be the Pirates’ first look at a team that likes to use the passing game and all of the available space they can get on eight-man field dimensions.
“They’re going to put us in some spots where they spread us out,” Rosemeyer said. “They’re going to motion a lot. A lot of different prep for these guys. It will put some challenges on our defensive backs. It will be a challenge we haven’t seen this year yet in eight-man football with all the space out there. We’re athletic enough to do it. We’ll see if we’re disciplined enough to be able to do our jobs, tackle well and cover in space.”
Kickoff is set for 7 p.m. Friday. For those unable to attend, visit gilman.k12. wi.us for a link to the live stream.