Now that the Waupaca Comet football team has its first win under its belt, it can now turn its attention to one of the favorites to win an Eastern Valley Conference championship.
The Comets improved to 1-1 with Friday’s 26-18 win over Freedom and will host 2-0 Winneconne at 7 p.m. Friday, Sept. 10, at Haberkorn Field.
Waupaca trailed 18-13 heading into the fourth quarter of Friday’s matchup in Freedom, but pulled out the victory with a pair of unanswered scores.
Freedom opened the scoring as Neal Schlavensky connected with Craig Schommer for a 64-yard touchdown pass in the second quarter. The Comets also found the end zone twice in the period, as Beau Ash scored from 6 yards out and caught a 15-yard scoring pass from Harley Anderson that gave Waupaca a 13-6 lead at the break.
Any momentum the Comets took into the second half didn’t last long, as Schlavensky scored on a 17-yard run and hit Cole Krueger on a 16-yard pass that gave the Irish an 18-13 lead heading into the fourth quarter.
The Comets regained the lead on Anderson’s 6-yard touchdown pass to Nate Jenson and Zach Nellis capped the scoring with a 25-yard run late in the game.
“I thought our effort out there was tremendous on both sides of the ball,” coach John Koronkiewicz said. “Defensively, we played hard and came up with some big plays, a fumble recovery and three interceptions, all by Zach. He’s a great player out there, no question about that. He’s a guy that had to step forward and lead us, which he did tonight. He has to bring a couple of guys along with him and I think he’s beginning to do that. That’s what seniors are supposed to do.”
Ash finished with 78 yards on 20 carries to lead Waupaca’s ground game and also caught three passes for 65 yards, while Anderson completed eight of 14 passes for 114 yards.
Schommer caught three passes for 100 yards to lead Freedom.
“On film, we could see that the guy could run,” Koronkiewicz said. “A couple times, our defensive guys were in very good position. They just got outhustled a little going for the football. That’s something we’ll have to work on.”
On the other hand, he said the Comet offensive line improved from a season-opening loss to Appleton Xavier.
“Our offensive line did a much better job than last week,” he said. “They were a little more sure of their assignments and I thought they were a little more physical. They have to be if we’re going to improve on a regular basis. They took a step in the right direction tonight.”
The Comets outgained the Irish 283-231.
Winneconne opened its season with EVC wins over Berlin and Fox Valley Lutheran. Waupaca defeated the Wolves 16-10 in double overtime last year.
“Winneconne’s a very talented football team,” Koronkiewicz said. “I think they’re one of the favorites (to win the EVC) and they should be. They have a quarterback that’s outstanding, a great fullback, speed on the perimeter and a couple of nice linemen. Defensively, they’re very aggressive.
“We’ll have our hands full, but the good thing is we’re coming home,” he added. “We can build off of this. Hopefully, our effort and our performance is a little better than this week because that’s what we have to do if we’re going to make the kind of progress we need to make to compete in this league.”