DARLINGTON, Wis. — With about six minutes left in the game Friday, the possibility of a season-opening victory for the Westby High School football team seemed bleak.
On the road against a Darlington team that had appeared in the past four WIAA Division 6 state championship games, the Redbirds were driving looking to add to their 14-12 lead. But then the Norsemen defense came through, forcing and recovering a fumble on their own-15 yard line to give their offense one last shot.
Alex Gluch and the offense grinded it out and gave their kicker Grant Dayton a chance to win it in the final seconds. Dayton returned the favor by drilling a 25-yard field goal as time expired to give Westby the 15-14 victory.
Gluch had tossed three interceptions before the final drive, but the junior still showed poise and with help from his run game drove the Norsemen (1-0) down the field.
“I got them together, let’s try and get a drive together and run some option. We had some time to run the ball,” Westby coach Andy Hulst said. “Chevy Knight and Alex with our half backs got about 6 to 7 yards a crack. Gluch displayed a lot poise, made a lot of good decisions with the option.”
All the kids are excited. Any time you can beat Darlington (0-1) one of the better programs in the state it’s a boost of confidence.”
Holmen 34, Chippewa Falls 28
HOLMEN — Drew Becker ran for 165 yards and a touchdown and returned a kickoff 91 yards for a score to open up the second half to help the Vikings pull out a win in a game that featured seven lead changes.
The Vikings (1-0) trailed at the half 21-19 before Becker gave them the lead with his return.
After the Vikings fumbled the ball inside the 10 in the fourth quarter, the Cardinals drove the field to score and go up by two. But Holmen countered with a game-winning drive, which ended with a Mitch Torud 13-yard dash into the end zone.
“We hung tough, ground it out, and pulled together as a team,” Holmen coach Travis Kowalski said. “The guys played with a lot of resilience.”
Sparta 28, Black River Falls 13
SPARTA — Sparta scored 21 points in the first half en route to a season-opening win.
The Spartans (1-0) scored on their first two possessions.
Greg Jacobs opened the scoring with a 41-yard touchdown run, then Bryce Edwards scored on a 6-yard run.
Cole Wisniewski led Sparta with 138 rushing yards, and he scored a touchdown in the fourth quarter. Edwards ran for 67 yards; Jacobs had 68.
West Salem 37, Arcadia 0
ARCADIA — West Salem rushed for 205 yards against Arcadia, including 171 from Brendan Holt.
Holt had a 52-yard score with 10:44 remaining in the first quarter. He had 15 carries.
Ryan Beirne nailed a 50-yard field goal in the first quarter, and in the second quarter, John Glassmaker had a 36-yard fumble return for the Panthers.
West Salem (1-0) held Arcadia (0-1) to 101 rushing yards.
Tomah 32, Mauston 21
TOMAH — Tomah’s Kyle Kroener had a big night on both ends of the ball.
Kroener had six catches for 129 yards from quarterback Connor Prielipp.
Kroener also had a 98-yard interception in the second quarter, and picked off another Mauston pass later in the game.
Prielipp had four passing touchdowns. He had 176 passing yards on 12 completions.
His longest TD pass was to Kroener was for 54 yards, and found him again for a 10-yard score.
The Timberwolves (1-0) had 126 rushing yards.
Onalaska 41, River Valley 19
SPRING GREEN, Wis. — The Hilltoppers showed shades of their high-flying attack from a season ago in blowing out last season’s Division 4 runner-up.
Onalaska (1-0) tallied 563 yards of total offense to River Valley’s 200. Sophomore running back Nathan Lubinsky scored three rushing touchdowns and more than 100 yards on the ground. Senior quarterback Noah Skifton also had more than 100 yards rushing, and hit receiver Ray Heilman for an 82-yard touchdown pass.
The Hilltoppers scored 21 points in the fourth quarter after holding a 13-7 lead at halftime.
Onalaska Luther 24, Blair-Taylor 14
ONALASKA — Junior Emery Byus ran for two touchdowns, one of which was a 70 yard kick return, as the Knights topped the Wildcats. Erik Rogers ran for a 63 yard touchdown for the Knights, who added a field goal in the fourth quarter.
There were a lot of things for the Central High School football team to celebrate Friday night at Veterans Memorial Field.
Sophomore quarterback Johnny Davis was one. Junior Jamar Davis was another. The biggest, of course, was a 45-7 nonconference victory over Eau Claire North.
But a serious injury to the left ankle of Jordan Davis while making a catch near the goal line on the second possession made the win a little bittersweet.
The Red Raiders (1-0) set the tone when Johnny Davis rolled to his right and connected with Jordan Davis for a 14-yard gain on the first play and continued it with the quarterback passing all over the Huskies.
“I was a little nervous at the start,” said Johnny Davis, who completed 21 of 37 passes for 403 yards and three touchdowns without a turnover. “But once I saw that our guys were going to come out and do what they needed to do, I knew we were going to win.”
Jordan Davis, who capped the first drive with a 38-yard touchdown catch and finished with three catches for 85 yards during seven offensive plays, was injured while hauling in a 33-yard catch down the left sideline on the second possession. He pulled the ball down over the top of the defender before the two tumbled to the ground, and Davis remained there.
“I was very concerned about it,” Johnny Davis said of the injury. “He was going to be one of the best receivers in the conference, and it was tough watching him go down like that.”
The Red Raiders, who won their opener for the second straight year, completed the drive with a Greg Kohler touchdown run as the sophomore receiver was prepared to be transported in an ambulance that was parked on the track.
Johnny Davis continued unfazed and made good read after good read while the Red Raiders pulled away. He completed 16 of 24 passes for 310 yards and two touchdowns as Central built a 38-0 halftime lead.
The Red Raiders had touchdown drives of 68, 39, 70, 48 and 32 yards in the first half. The last score — a 32-yard pass to Zach Lueth — came with 4 minutes, 32 seconds left in the half.
Eau Claire North managed 52 yards in the first quarter and just 17 in the second as Central tacked on two second-quarter touchdowns.
Jamar Davis was a dual offensive threat and took care of North with his speed. He caught seven passes for 104 yards and carried three times for 63 yards.
“What’s different between us now and us last year is that last year we had a bunch of linemen and tried to run the ball a lot more with the spread,” Central coach Tony Servais said. “Our young guys from last year are now on the outside and ready to give us more.
“We saw Jamar’s speed today, but we’ll also find plenty of opportunities for Greg (Kohler), too. He didn’t run the ball a lot today, but he will.”
The injury to Jordan Davis created an opening for Lueth to get more snaps at receiver, and he took advantage of the opportunity. The senior caught four passes for 101 yards and a second-quarter touchdown.