Pewaukee football comes alive against New Berlin West
Vikings hold Pirates scoreless in first half
The Pewaukee football team came into the New Berlin West game expecting a tough battle, and they got one.
The Vikings held the Pirates scoreless in the first half before Pewaukee rallied in the second half for a 27-7 victory Friday night at West.
The win ensured the Pirates a playoff berth and kept them in second place behind Greendale, while West will have to win its final conference game in two weeks to keep its playoff hopes alive after the spirited loss.
Wary of West
"Our message to the guys all week was, 'Listen, this is a team that's senior-laden, and they are playing with their backs to the wall,'" Pewaukee head coach Justin Friske said about New Berlin West. "They're going to come out swinging, and we've got to stand in, take their punches, and fight like crazy, and in the first half we saw a lot of that. It was a game to the end."
The first half was mostly uneventful, except for a Vikings' scoring chance at the end. They had gotten the ball within the 5-yard line but were unable to punch it in.
Nathan Henrichs was brought in to attempt a short field goal, but his attempt was wide left, leaving both teams scoreless at the end of the half.
"We started off, honestly, a little bit shellshocked," said Friske. "I'm not sure our guys mentally knew how tough these guys were really going to be, and hats off to New Berlin West. Those guys played their tails off. They really did."
Momentum to visitors
In the second half, Pewaukee (6-1, 4-1 Woodland West) finally seized momentum.
Near the middle of the third quarter, West quarterback Johnathan Kozlowski was picked off by Pewaukee's Riley Sheahan, who ran the ball back to the Vikings' 15-yard line. Three plays later, running back Ryan Stepanovich scored on a 4-yard touchdown run. The kick was blocked, leaving Pewaukee with a 6-0 lead.
"They ran kind of a tight-end pass over the middle, and Riley saw it the whole way and he stepped right in front of it," Friske said. "It was a great play on his part. They beat us last year a couple times with that same play, and kudos to Riley. He's a two-year starter, and he stepped right in and saw it. It was a huge momentum builder for us."
Pewaukee would add to their lead early in the fourth quarter, when quarterback Ben Tenpas ran up the middle for a score. The extra point was good this time, and it was 13-0 Pewaukee.
New Berlin West (2-5, 2-3 Woodland West) answered back with a score of its own. On the first play of the drive, the Vikings tried a flea flicker, with Kozlowski tossing it to running back Travis McKeon, who threw it 48 yards to a waiting Christian Wijenayake for the touchdown with 8:12 left in the game, and the lead was cut to 13-7 after the extra point by Henrichs. Kozlowski would complete 9 of 21 passes for 83 yards and rushed 10 times for 52 yards.
Quick score from Pirates
But just 21 seconds later, Pewaukee doubled its lead again with a 26-yard touchdown run by running back Colin Sternad, who set up his scoring play with a 56-yard run. He would finish with 9 carries for 124 yards and a touchdown.
"The kid's a special player," Friske said. "He runs relentlessly. We got a lot of guys that run the ball very hard. We kind of do a deal where they take one thing away, we go to another. We saw that the trap might be open, and when you've got 48 running the ball, he makes really good things happen."
Pewaukee would add one more score when Ryan Stepanovich scored a touchdown on a 30-yard run with 2:34 left to put the game away for good.
New Berlin West head coach Al Moroder was disappointed in the loss after his team went into the break tied at 0-0.
"They capitalized on mistakes, and good teams do that," Moroder said. "We can't turn the football over like we do. We've got to punch that ball in at the end of the half, and when you don't do that against a solid team, you're not going to win many football games."
The Vikings will play at Greenfield on Oct. 11 in a non-conference game and host St. Francis on Oct. 18 in a game that counts in the league record.
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