Tigers one win away from HON football titleWin Friday at Bloomer would give NHS at least a share of championship
By: Emily Kram, Superior Telegram
MAPLE — The Northwestern High School football team needs one more win to clinch at least a share of the Heart O’ North Conference title.
The Northwestern Tigers improved to 5-1 in the conference and 6-1 overall Friday night with a 24-6 victory over Chetek-Weyerhaeuser (1-5, 2-5). The Tigers close out the regular season Friday at Bloomer (4-2, 4-3).
“That’s the big one. We win that and we’re conference champions,” said Dennis Scherz, Northwestern head coach. “That’s certainly something I don’t think anyone expected, so this is a very proud team.”
Cumberland (5-1, 6-1) is also in the running for the conference crown after defeating Barron 14-6 Friday night. Cumberland hosts Ladysmith (0-6, 0-7) Friday to close out conference play.
In Maple Friday, both Northwestern and Chetek-Weyerhaeuser struggled through a wintery first half.
Snow began to fall on the opening kickoff, and the slick conditions and numbing wind led to seven turnovers in two quarters of play.
The Tigers fumbled the ball four times, losing it twice. Chetek-Weyerhaeuser had three first-half fumbles but retained possession on all three.
“It’s high school football,” Scherz said. “It’s not a perfect product. It’s not what you get to see on Sunday. There’s a lot of issues, and certainly the weather was a part of that.”
Northwestern’s first turnover came about a minute into play and led to a Bulldogs touchdown. The Tigers fumbled at their own 41-yard line on the third play of the game, and Chetek took over with prime field position.
Chetek needed five minutes and 11 plays to reach the 2-yard line in a fourth and goal situation. Jonny Chamberlain then ran the ball in with 5:51 left in the first quarter to give Chetek a 6-0 advantage.
The Tigers took the lead by the end of the quarter and kept the Bulldogs out of the end zone for the rest of the night.
Quarterback Peter Lindsay started Northwesternn’s scoring with a 4-yard touchdown run and completed a 12-yard pass to Tanner Follis for another touchdown. Nathan Sikorski added a rushing touchdown in the third quarter, and sophomore kicker Jordan Orme finished up with a 38-yard field goal.
“We kept our shot at the conference title,” Lindsay said. “We came out kind of dead but we just figured out that we had to keep fighting.”
The Tigers’ first scoring drive began at the Chetek 30-yard line. A breakout run from Lindsay gave Northwestern a first down near midfield, and the senior quarterback came through again four plays later to convert on a fourth down attempt. Lindsay’s second carry put the Tigers 28 yards from the end zone.
Sikorski ran for five yards on the Tigers’ next play and then picked up almost 20 yards to put Lindsay in position for his 4-yard touchdown run. Orme’s extra-point kick put Northwestern in front, 7-6.
The Tiger defense forced Chetek to punt after three plays, but another fumble returned the ball to the Bulldogs with 10:17 to play in the second quarter.
Chetek was again forced to punt, and Northwestern took over at its own 14-yard line. A solid run by Tyler Gamst and a defensive pass interference call gave the Tigers two quick first downs. Sikorski moved the ball into Bulldog territory and followed with a first-down run to reach the 36-yard line with 2:17 left.
The Tigers stayed with their ground game to move closer and then reached the 12-yard line on another pass interference penalty. Lindsay wrapped up the drive with a pass to Follis in the right corner of the end zone.
At halftime, Northwestern led 14-6. The Tigers added a third touchdown on a 77-yard drive in the third quarter after Chetek turned the ball over on downs, and in the fourth quarter Northwestern used up almost 10 minutes of clock on one drive.
“We had the best second half we’ve had all year,” Scherz said. “That’s what we do; we basically ran out both quarters running the football. We controlled it.”
Lindsay also noted the improved second-half play of the Tigers. He said the snow, which let up after halftime, was a possible factor.
“I was trying to stay warm,” he said. “But we made simple errors, just things we’ve got to change.”
One Tiger who wasn’t fazed by the snow was Orme. He went 3-for-3 on extra point attempts for the night and made a 38-yard field goal in the fourth quarter, which is believed to be a new record for NHS.
“That’s a good kick,” Scherz said. “Against the wind.”
Orme also made a game-winning field goal against Spooner earlier this season, and Scherz said the sophomore gives the Tigers a legitimate field goal threat.
“He’s a great kicker,” Scherz said. “As I tell him, when his opportunity comes kick it through. And you never know when that’s going to come. It almost came a couple of times earlier in the game.
“It’s a big part of our game. And his kickoffs have really helped us too.”
For the night, the Tigers had 331 yards rushing and 12 yards passing. The Bulldogs finished with 72 yards passing and 125 yards rushing, led by Tanner Zwiefellhofer with 60 yards.
Sikorski had 124 yards to lead Northwestern. Mark Pooler added 88 yards rushing, Lindsay had 64, Gamst had 44 and Justin Miesbauer had 11.
Chetek-Weyer. 6 0 0 0 — 6
Northwestern 7 7 7 3 — 24
CW—Jonny Chamberlain 2-yard run (run failed), 5:51.
N—Peter Lindsay 4-yard run (Jordan Orme kick), 0:17.
N—Tanner Follis 12-yard pass from Lindsay (Orme kick), 0:15.
N—Nathan Sikorski 5-yard run (Orme kick), 1:00.
N—Orme 38-yard field goal.