BARABOO, Wis. — The opportunities were there, and that’s what hurt the most as the Logan High School football team walked off the field for the final time this season on Friday.
Moving the ball against Monona Grove was difficult, and so was stopping the Silver Eagles’ running game.
But the Rangers had chances to change the tone of their 28-14 WIAA Division 3 state semifinal loss to Monona Grove early and could capitalize.
The fact they they knew that didn’t make post-game discussions easy.
Logan (10-3) had no problem acknowledging the skill and and speed of the Silver Eagles. The Rangers walked away impressed.
But the recovered fumbles and resulting good field position they squandered, especially in the first quarter, is going to eat away at them.
“The defense worked so hard to get those turnovers for us,” quarterback Mitchell Schreiner said. “You hope you can do something for them and get points out of it.
“They did their job. We just didn’t do ours.“
The Silvers Eagles (13-0) had a 7-0 lead after taking the ball 58 yards on four plays during the opening drive, but Logan’s defense made some big plays on Monona Grove’s next two possessions that could have changed the complexion of the game early.
Monona Grove faced a third-and-13 on its second possession when quarterback Tyler Blang completed a 13-yard pass to Trey Powers. But the hit on Powers jarred the ball free, and Logan recovered at the Monona Grove 25-yard line.
The Rangers (10-3) moved to the 14 on two plays — a 9-yard run by Raekwon Tillman and 2-yarder by Dylan Crocker — before an incomplete pass. The next two snaps lost 6 yards before Schreiner completed a 12-yard pass to Peter Heglund-Lohman on fourth down.
But the completion was 8 yards short of a first down, and the Silver Eagles claimed possession.
“They were playing fast and flowing to the ball on defense,” Schreiner said of the Silver Eagles, who play Greendale (13-0) for the Division 3 championship 10 a.m. Friday at Camp Randall Stadium in Madison. “You have to give them credit for playing heads-up defense there.”
Monona Grove’s first play, however, resulted in another turnover when Sawyer Liveley took a handoff, ran for 6 yards and fumbled on the hit. Kyle Bakalars recovered the ball for a Logan first down at Monona Grove’s 14.
Tillman carried twice to move the ball to the 3, but an illegal block on his next carry moved the ball back to the 15. A false start followed, and two completions to Aric Elmore moved the ball only to the 8 for fourth down.
The Rangers tried a field goal this time, but Heglund-Lohman’s attempt shot wide right as soon as it left his foot.
“I think that really hurt us,” Logan coach Casey Knoble said of coming up without points on either possession. “It would have given us confidence, which I think we may have needed here early.
“Scoring on one of those would have done a lot for us momentum-wise, but their defense also did a nice job of shutting us down on those.”
Logan also had a chance to tighten the gap on the opening drive of the third quarter. Elmore’s 20-yard touchdown catch on the final play of the first half drew his team to within 21-7, and it took the ball after the third-quarter kickoff at the 23.
A 30-yard pass to Elmore on the third play gave the Rangers a first down at the Monona Grove 35. Schreiner was then flushed from the pocket on third-and-2 from the 27 and tried to make something happen as he raced toward the Logan sideline.
“I saw Calvin (Wright) dropping back a little bit, but I put too much on it,” Schreiner said. “It was the wrong decision.“
Steven Martine intercepted the pass to help the Monona Grove defense hold on that time.