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Share clinched; outright title is goal for Friday



Both teams moved the football but when push came to shove in Friday’s Central Wisconsin-East eight-player showdown, Gilman’s defense got more stops and its offense got more key plays in a 30-8 victory that clinched at least a conference championship share for the host Pirates.

In a game that featured both the athleticism of the eight-man game and the physicality fans may associate more with an 11-man battle, Troy Duellman scored three touchdowns and ran for 126 yards, while Dawson Krizan battled through a left shoulder injury to complete six of 10 passes for 50 yards. Krizan also ran for a key 18-yard touchdown late in the third quarter that started to put the game away for the undefeated Pirates. Gilman, now 4-0 in the conference and 7-0 overall, aims to cap a perfect regular season Friday at Athens (2-2, 4-3). The Pirates are one of seven playoff- eligible eight-player unbeatens left in the state. Thorp fell to 3-1, 5-2 and hosts Owen-Withee (3-1, 5-2) this Friday in a must-win game for playoff-eligibility.

“The kids played hard and we made just enough plays,” Gilman head coach Robin Rosemeyer said. “For the most part we made more positive plays than negative plays. We had to deal with some injury situations and some kids stepped up offensively and defensively and we didn’t really skip a beat for the most part so that was good to see too. I’m happy with our effort. I thought our kids played hard and that proved to be a big factor in a lot of plays.”

The yardage totals were fairly close with Gilman holding a 355-314 edge, both teams had 17 first downs and both teams were hurt by some untimely penalties. The game came down to who would be better at finishing drives, and Gilman was that team.

“There were little plays, some gang tackle type hustle plays, that put them in some fourth down spots where then they didn’t get it,” Rosemeyer said. “It was just some of the hustle that we had. We worked hard to get to the ball carrier and keep him from getting those extra yards, so instead of a fourth and one, maybe it was fourth and three. In a game like that, those are little things

See GILMAN on page 7

Gilman quarterback Dawson Krizan finds some running room and takes off for a 35-yard gain during the second quarter of Friday's 30-8 win over the Thorp Cardinals. Krizan's run set up Troy Duellman's 12-yard touchdown that put the Pirates up 14-0. With the win, Gilman clinched at least a share of the Central Wisconsin-East Conference championship.

BRIAN WILSON/THE STAR NEWS that stick out as you watch the film.”

The Pirates didn’t finish their first drive, which was a gift from the Cardinals. Duellman pried the ball loose from Thorp’s Braden Schultze on the opening kickoff and Tony Syryczuk recovered it on Thorp’s 29. But, a penalty threw a wrench in Gilman’s ensuing possession and the Pirates quickly turned the ball over on downs.

Their second possession, however, had a better result. The Pirates went 55 yards on 11 plays to score the game’s first touchdown. With Krizan injured while making a tackle for loss on Thorp’s first full possession, the drive was engineered by freshman quarterback Logan Halida, who completed all three of his passes on the drive, including a 20-yard third-down delivery down the right seam to Max Ustianowski, who made a tough, one-handed grab. Duellman’s 1-yard scoring run made it 6-0 just over halfway through the opening quarter.

“(The Ustianowski catch) was big play,” Rosemeyer said. “For us to go down and score really got our kids in a good attitude there after going four and out on that series. Logan was three for three. We just did our play action with him and he was able to step aside from a little bit of rush and just find some openings and make some throws. He was accurate with his throws. You couldn’t ask anything more from your backup quarterback to execute the way he did.”

Thorp’s first serious threat came on a lengthy possession that bridged the end of the first and start of the second quarters. The Cardinals got to Gilman’s 10 before a holding penalty and then an 8-yard sack on quarterback Denzel Sutton by freshman Kolby Keepers derailed the drive.

That stop started one of the game’s key swings as the Pirates then drove 86 yards in 10 plays, overcoming a holding penalty and getting a 35-yard scamper by Krizan that led to Duellman’s 12-yard scoring run off the left edge with 3:18 remaining in the half. Duellman also ran in the two-point try for a 14-0 lead.

A lost fumble prevented Gilman from taking a three-score lead midway through the third quarter. The Cardinals turned that miscue into a 64-yard touchdown drive and made it a one-score game instead. The Cardinals thought they had a 30-yard touchdown pass over the middle from Sutton to Logan Hanson, but a holding call negated it. Still, the Cardinals overcame the penalty as well as a 10-yard sack by Pirate end Caleb Marion to get on the board on a fourthdown 14-yard scoring toss from Sutton to Schultze in the left back corner of the end zone. Sutton’s two-point run made it 14-8 with 4:17 left in the third.

But just when the Cardinals thought they had momentum, they lost it. Two straight kickoffs out of bounds led to Gilman taking possession at midfield. Syryczuk went for 21 yards on third and one and, three plays later, Krizan broke two arm tackles near the line of scrimmage, then bounced off about three more tacklers before breaking free for his 18-yard touchdown. Syryczuk ran in the two-pointer for a 22-8 lead with 1:46 left in the quarter.

Despite going in and out of the game, Krizan finished with 82 rushing yards on nine carries.

“It was third and long and Dawson made a nice hard run,” Rosemeyer said. “He kept his feet moving, made some guys miss tackles. That was one of the big plays of the game to score there and answer their score.”

Gilman iced things midway through the fourth after stopping Thorp’s ensuing possession on downs at the Pirates’ 33. A personal foul moved the ball to Gilman’s 48 to start the drive, runs of 10 yards and 16 yards by Duellman and another costly penalty on Thorp set up Duellman’s 1-yard plunge and a two-point pass from Krizan to Marion with 6:30 left.

If that didn’t put the game away, Chad Konsella’s sideline interception of a Sutton pass with 5:42 to go did.

“Defensively our execution was really pretty good,” Rosemeyer said. “Our angles were good most of the time. There were some mistakes as far as leverage that allowed them to get outside. But for the most part the kids had their head in the hole and were ready to make a tackle. Thorp still had numerous penalties because I thought we did have good leverage and they got caught holding.”

Two young players were key in the defensive effort. Keepers led Gilman with 14 tackles and was credited with three sacks. Sophomore Cooper Krug added nine tackles in extended playing time. Duellman had 12 tackles.

“Kolby’s toughness allows him to do some things inside in the run game but he’s also fast enough to help us on the outside,” Rosemeyer said. “He brings that extra dimension that’s good for eightman football in a sense. But he’s just a good football player, whether it’s inside or outside he’s going to make plays. Cooper Krug did a good job stepping in also. He kind of replaced Dawson Krizan. He had nine tackles at the outside linebacker spot. He did a good job. Those two guys for young guys stepping up and getting a lot of time, they did a great job.”

The conference championship is Gilman’s third in four seasons of eight-man football.

Finishing in Athens

At Athens Friday, Gilman will face a young squad that has beaten the teams it’s supposed to beat and had trouble with the top-tier squads it’s faced. The team’s losses are 52-0 to Thorp, 49-0 to Owen-Withee and 48-6 to Bruce.

Two years ago, Athens was unbeaten in its first season in eight-player football, but most of the players who drove that team are now gone.

Sophomore Evin Passehl leads Athens in rushing with 566 yards and eight touchdowns but a good chunk of that came in Friday’s 50-6 win over Greenwood. He had four scores and 246 yards in that win. Daxton Diethelm has thrown for 334 yards but has completed just 38% of his 66 passes.

Rain is expected Friday, which could make for some difficult playing conditions.

“To go on the road and try to win (the championship) by yourself makes it still a good motivating week for the kids,” Rosemeyer said. “We still have something to play for. Hopefully we’ll get it done. Bringing home a conference championship trophy would be nice stuff, a good thing for these kids to do. It really is one of the better eight-man conferences in the state I think.”

Rib Lake-Prentice quarterback Adam Raab waits for the snap flanked by running backs Logan Schmittfranz and Ethan Cook during Thursday’s homecoming game against Webster in Prentice. Lineman Jackson Bergemann and Jackson Isaacson also are ready to fire out of their stance. The Hawks’ JV-only season ended with a 31-6 loss.MATT KRUEGER/THE STAR NEWS