Evergreens claim historic win over Shell LakeNorthwood-Solon Springs hands Shell Lake first defeat of the season, 27-8.
By: Emily Kram, Superior Telegram
After Friday night’s football game in Minong, Northwood-Solon Springs head coach Brian Trettin was at a loss for words.
“What a win, what a win,” Trettin said.
The first-year coach struggled for the right phrase before summing up the night with one word.
For what is believed to be the first time in school history, the Evergreen football team defeated Shell Lake — knocking off the previously undefeated Lakers 27-8.
“It feels pretty good,” said Mike Meyer, a senior captain for the Evergreens. “We’ve had good teams in the past, but they’ve always had a better team. This year our guys put a lot of work in. All year this is what we’ve worked for, and I’m just happy it worked out.”
The Evergreens scored more points against Shell Lake Friday than they’d managed in their past five meetings with the Lakers combined.
From 2006-2010, the Lakers held a 196-20 scoring advantage over Northwood-Solon Springs. Shell Lake shut out the Evergreens twice during that time — 48-0 in 2008 and 41-0 in 2006 — and averaged almost 40 points of offense.
Entering Friday’s game, the Lakers were on pace to match that average, putting up about 42 points per game this season. Northwood, averaging 29.5 points per game, was considered the heavy underdog.
“I think we were the only ones who thought we could do it,” Meyer.
Defense was key for the Evergreens. Northwood held Shell Lake to 130 yards of total offense Friday and forced the Lakers to go three-and-out on their first two possessions.
The Evergreens, meanwhile, scored on their opening drive and added another touchdown later in the first quarter to take a 13-0 lead into halftime.
“I think we came out and stunned them right off the bat, which was huge,” said Evergreens quarterback Phil Larson. “It gave us a lot of momentum offensively, and then defensively they went three-and-out on their first drive. Basically, we came out ready and set the tone for the game.”
Northwood scored twice more in the fourth quarter, with one touchdown coming after an interception by Josh Malone. Larson also had an interception for the Evergreens, as they held Shell Lake scoreless through three quarters.
The Lakers broke through for a touchdown in the waning minutes of the final quarter to avoid the shutout.
For the game, the Evergreens had 310 yards of total offense.
Malone led Northwood with 156 yards rushing and 21 receiving for one touchdown. Larson also finished with one TD for the Evergreens, running for 63 yards, and Nick Murray finished with two touchdowns on 41 yards rushing.
On defense Malone led Northwood with 13½ tackles and an interception. Gage Harwick added 7½ tackles and a sack.
“When it (the win) really sank in was probably Saturday morning,” Malone said.
Malone has played for the Evergreens since he was a freshman, and in that time the closest Northwood came to defeating Shell Lake was a 27-6 loss in 2009. Before Malone’s time, Northwood’s losses had been even more lopsided, and the senior heard from a few former players who’d suffered through a Shell Lake stomping.
“A lot of the alumni that got beat up by Shell Lake called me and said thanks,” Malone said. “That was kind of cool.”
The senior heard from numerous players, some of whom had played as long as to six years ago. “They don’t forget that stuff,” Malone said.
Now Evergreen players and fans have something more positive to remember.
“We worked hard over the summer and during the season, just the whole team together,” said senior Leonardo Alcantar. “We really wanted to win this game.”
“We haven’t had exactly a glorious past in football,” Meyer added. “To kind of come in and change that attitude, it feels good for the team. It feels really good to be a part of it.”
Friday’s win was the fourth straight for the Evergreens (4-1, 4-1) since they lost their opener to Frederic. The last time Northwood had a four-game winning streak was 1981, Trettin said — the year the Evergreens were conference champions.
For any chance at this year’s conference title, Northwood will need assistance from the Lakers.
Shell Lake faces Frederic this week at 7 p.m. Friday. Frederic (4-1,4-0) is the lone undefeated team remaining in the Small Lakeland Conference and would all but clinch the title with a win over the Lakers.
The Evergreens will host Birchwood at 7 p.m. in Minong.
“We have to pretty much forget about last week and look at the game coming up Friday,” said junior Jake Dahlberg. “Our main goal is (to make) the playoffs.”
With a win over Birchwood, Northwood can officially qualify for the WIAA playoffs. If the Evergreens win, this will mark the fourth straight season they’ve earned a playoff berth.
NOTES: The Evergreens also received two votes in this week's AP Wisconsin State Football Poll.