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Krizan is defensive POY; Pirates dominate All-CWWC vote

Krizan is defensive POY; Pirates dominate All-CWWC vote Krizan is defensive POY; Pirates dominate All-CWWC vote


The first year of eight-player football in Gilman was a rousing success with a 7-1 overall record and a perfect 5-0 mark in the new Central Wisconsin West Conference.

That success was highlighted with the Pirates dominating the first-team lists both offensively and defensively in the new league’s first-ever all-conference vote.

Gilman took nearly half of the available spots, getting five players on the 10-player first-team defense and four of the nine first-team slots on offense.

Senior Kade Kroeplin and sophomore Braeden Person earned first-team honors on both sides of the ball, and junior linebacker Julian Krizan was named the conference’s first-ever Defensive Player of the Year.

The defensive awards come as no surprise since the Pirates clearly had the top unit in the conference. The Pirates allowed just 116.2 yards and 2.8 points per game in five conference contests and 169.4 yards and 6.5 points overall, figures that were skewed a little by Belmont’s 431 yards and 24 points in the season finale Nov. 13 that the Braves won 24-20.

Krizan and junior Bryson Keepers were named first-team linebackers, senior Brayden Boie and Person were named first-team linemen and Kroeplin got first-team honors at defensive back.

From his middle linebacker position, Krizan was Gilman’s leading tackler with 96 total stops, an average of 12 per game. He hit double figures in seven games, including a season-high 19 in Gilman’s 53-0 season-opening win over Bruce on Sept. 25 when he was also involved in five sacks. He had 16 tackles in a 53-14 non-conference win at McDonell Central Nov. 5 and 14 in a 65-6 win over New Auburn Oct. 23. Krizan had seven sacks and two fumble recoveries during the season.

Much of Gilman’s defensive success can be attributed to the havoc players like Boie, Person and Keepers created at the line of scrimmage.

Boie, an end, finished with 61 total tackles and six quarterback sacks. That included 13 tackles against New Auburn, 11 against Belmont and 10 in the season’s first win over McDonell, a 44-8 victory on Oct. 16. Person, the nose tackle, used his quickness to record 42 tackles and seven sacks. He had 10 tackles in the New Auburn win.

Keepers, an outside linebacker, notched 47 total tackles, including 14 against Belmont, two forced fumbles, one fumble recovery and he picked off two passes, both of which he returned for touchdowns in a 66-0 win at Clayton on Oct. 29. He finished with six sacks total for the season. Kroeplin was Gilman’s top cover man in the secondary and finished with 41 total tackles, including 11 in the loss to Belmont. He wasn’t able to corral any interceptions this year, but he had several key pass break-ups in the Nov. 5 win at McDonell.

Also on defense, junior defensive end Zack Marion and sophomore linebacker Grady Kroeplin were named to the All-CWWC second team.

Kroeplin was Gilman’s second-leading tackler with 79 total stops, an average of 9.9 per game. He was credited with being involved with 15 tackles in the Clayton game, 14 tackles in the second McDonell game and 13 in the first McDonell win, a game that ultimately decided the conference championship. Marion finished the year with 34 total tackles and one fumble recovery. He had nine tackles in the win over New Auburn and six tackles in the Clayton win and a 45-0 win at Phillips Oct. 2.

Offensive stars

No one in the Central Wisconsin West slowed down Gilman’s offense, which averaged 373 yards and 51 points in its five conference games. Overall, the Pirates piled up 357.6 yards and 49.3 points a game with Belmont being the only team to somewhat slow them down in eight games. Overall, the Pirates averaged 265.4 rushing yards per game.

Much of the credit goes to the offensive line, which put Marion, the team’s center, and Person, a guard, on the All-CWWC first team. Tight ends Keepers and Branden Ustianowski, who also have to do their fair share of blocking in Gilman’s run-based offensive scheme, got honorable mention.

Kade Kroeplin, Boie and Krizan were the ones taking advantage of the holes they opened most often.

Kroeplin was named a first-team running back along with New Auburn’s Nick Walker. The speedy Kroeplin fought through an early-season hamstring pull and finished with 554 yards on 76 attempts for a 7.3 yards per carry average. he scored six rushing touchdowns. Boie got a second-team spot at running back, along with Brady Bogdanovic of Phillips, after he gained 397 yards on 54 carries for a 7.4 yards per carry average and scored eight touchdowns.

Kroeplin’s fall included 139 yards and a touchdown on 14 carries in a 48-0 win over Alma Center Lincoln on Oct. 9 and 103 yards and three touchdowns on three carries in the 53-14 win over McDonell. Kroeplin, as he has been throughout his career, was a big receiving threat too. He only caught nine passes this year, but they went for 222 yards. His lone touchdown was a big 60-yard reception at Mc-Donell.

Boie ran for a season-high 97 yards in game one against Bruce and hit the 70yard mark on two other occasions. He also caught 11 passes for 137 yards and two scores.

Krizan, Gilman’s quarterback, probably deserved higher than honorable mention for his play at that position. He wound up leading the team in rushing with 590 yards on 65 carries for a 9.1 yards per carry average and he scored a team-high 14 touchdowns. He was quite accurate in the passing game, completing 40 of 58 passes (69%) for 738 yards and 11 touchdowns. He completed 13 two-point conversion passes as well. His only interception came on a Hail Mary pass on the last play of the game in the loss to Belmont.

Krizan ran for a season-high 164 yards and three touchdowns in the win over Phillips and he had 134 yards and three touchdowns in the conference win over McDonell. His best passing line in conference was an eight-for-12 for 94 yards and a touchdown at Phillips. He closed with two huge games. He was four for six for 173 yards and two scores at McDonell and 15 for 22 for 198 yards and a touchdown against Belmont.

Keepers was Gilman’s leading receiver, catching 11 passes for 247 yards and four touchdowns. He caught three passes for 80 yards and all three receptions went for touchdowns in the Clayton win. Ustianowski caught seven passes for 85 yards and three touchdowns.

Gilman’s final first-team selection on offense went to senior kicker Andrew Hecker. He often pinned opponents deep in their territory with strong kickoffs and he made a couple of extra points in the win over Lincoln.

Brayden Boie First Team Defense Second Team Offense

Bryson Keepers First Team Defense Hon. Mention Offense

Braeden Person First Team Offense First Team Defense

Zack Marion First Team Offense Second Team Defense

Andrew Hecker First Team Offense

Gilman’s Julian Krizan records one of his 96 tackles on the season, wrapping up Alma Center Lincoln receiver Noah Dawley during the Pirates’ 48-0 win over the Hornets on Oct. 9. Krizan, Gilman’s middle linebacker, was named the Central Wisconsin West’s Defensive Player of the Year for 2020 and got honorable mention for his play at quarterback.MATT FREY/THE STAR NEWS

Grady Kroeplin Second Team Defense

Branden Ustianowski Hon. Mention Offense