UPDATED: Season ends for Tiger football team
The Northwestern Tigers saw their season come to an end Friday night with a 41-0 loss to Bloomer.
Bloomer (8-1, 7-0) claimed the Heart O' North Conference title outright with the victory.
"I have a lot of respect for Northwestern," Bloomer coach John Post said. "I know what it's like for seniors to finish their last game, and there's nine seniors here tonight that are obviously emotionally upset."
The Tigers ended the season at 4-5 overall and 2-5 in the HON Conference.
Seniors playing the last game Friday night were Taylor Agamaite, Elias Alexandrou, Tyler Blair, Luke Freeman, Mitch Graskey, Michael Jamison, Jay Karich, Jeff Pearson and Carter Shalafoe.
"They're good kids," NHS coach Dennis Scherz said. "They worked hard; we just didn't have a lot of them."
Post also offered a nod to the seniors, saying they finished their high school careers with class.
"It was a nice game. I asked the kids if anyone was getting chippy and they said, 'No.' That's a credit to the program and the coaching staff," Post said.
Bloomer now prepares to host a Level 1 playoff game against St. Croix Falls (4-5, 3-3) at 7 p.m. Friday. The Blackhawks are making their 10th straight playoff appearance, but for the first time in school history, they will be playing in Division 5.
Bloomer played in Division 3 during the 1980s, and the Blackhawks' 18 other playoff appearances came in Division 4.
"They're a good football team, as I saw pretty much all year," Scherz said. "They're going to have a nice playoff run."
The Tigers, meanwhile, are looking ahead to 2014. With a relatively small senior class, Northwestern will return many of its players next season.
"We had an extremely young team on the field," Scherz said. "In many ways, it's what would normally be a JV team, with all the sophomores and freshmen that we had on the field.
"It's extremely difficult for underclassmen to play, even juniors. But (linemen) Logan (Moreau) and (Luke) Masterson will be that much better players next year having all the varsity experience they've had."
Against Bloomer Friday night, the Tigers' youth showed.
Northwestern went three-and-out four times in the first quarter, while Bloomer scored on all three of its possessions. The Tigers made one sustained drive in the second quarter but then turned the ball over on a fumble at the Bloomer 38-yard line.
"You could see how tentative some of our kids were tonight," Scherz said. "They kind of regressed to their age, which can happen when you're playing a seasoned team."
The Tigers finished the game with just four first downs, three of which came on penalties against the Blackhawks. Nate Pearson led Northwestern with 33 yards rushing. Micah Goetsch added 18 yards and Tyler Blair finished with 11 yards.
Senior running back Colten Seibel led the way for the Blackhawks with five touchdowns on the night, bringing his season total to 30.
"He's had a great season. He's worked his tail off," Post said. "And we've really only gotten to run him halves in games."
Ryan Buske also added a 63-yard touchdown run in the first quarter, and quarterback Matt Salm made a pair of big passes to Alec Custer to keep drives going.
For the night, Seibel had 175 yards on the ground, and Buske finished with 100 yards. Seibel has more than 1,500 yards rushing for the season.
Pearson surpassed 1,000 yards rushing for Northwestern.
NOTES: Bloomer now holds a four-game winning streak against Northwestern, including three straight regular season shutouts. ... Bloomer is the first team to defeated the Tigers twice on their home field since the Gordon L. Nelson Sports Complex opened in 2008. The Blackhawks' 41-point victory is also the greatest margin of defeat for Northwestern at Tiger Stadium. Northwestern's all-time record at the field is 26-5. ... Bloomer's only loss this season came to Somerset in week one. The Blackhawks have been knocked out of the playoffs by Somerset in three of the past four seasons, but the teams will be denied a rematch this year: Bloomer is playing in Division 5, while Somerset remains in Division 4.
Bloomer 20 21 0 0 -- 41
Northwestern 0 0 0 0 -- 0
B -- Colten Seibel 38-yard run (Matt Salm kick), 6:36.
B -- Seibel 8-yard run (Salm kick), 4:07.
B -- Ryan Buske 63-yard run (kick failed), 1:51.
B -- Seibel 5-yard run (Salm kick), 11:13.
B -- Seibel 3-yard run (Salm kick), 7:15.
B -- Seibel 1-yard run (Salm kick), 0:00.