After watching the Waupaca Comet football team outscore its last three opponents 91-6, coach John Koronkiewicz was hoping that Luxemburg-Casco would test his squad in the regular-season finale.
He got his wish, as the Comets tuned up for the playoffs with a 21-17 win Thursday, Oct. 21, at Haberkorn Field.
“This is a good test for us,” Koronkiewicz said. “I think we needed one like this. We went through a stretch where we played the bottom half of our conference. We needed to play somebody where we had to strap it up and play four quarters of football. That’s what we had to do tonight.”
Both teams had wrapped up a playoff spot earlier in the season. Waupaca hosted Northland Pines in a Division 3 Level 1 matchup Tuesday, Oct. 26, while the Spartans hosted Green Bay Notre Dame in another first-round game.
“You saw two playoff teams on the field today,” Koronkiewicz said. “That’s the kind of football you have to play at this particular moment of the season. I told the guys from hereon in, the poorer teams have put their pads away and there are only good teams left.”
Waupaca struck first on Harley Anderson’s 33-yard touchdown pass to Beau Ash in the first quarter, but the Spartans took a 10-7 halftime lead with a pair of second-quarter scores. Ethan Peters returned an Anderson interception 70 yards for a touchdown and Shawn Mueller added a 40-yard field goal.
The Spartans extended the lead to 10 points in the third quarter on Calvin Falk’s 44-yard TD pass to Nathan Zellner, but Waupaca responded with two touchdowns of its own in the quarter on Anderson’s 1-yard run and his 37-yard pass to Casey Nicewander.
Both teams struggled running the ball. The Comets gained only 29 yards on 31 carries, while L-C mustered only 65 yards on 33 attempts.
“There were times when there was a lot of white and maroon on our side of the line of scrimmage,” Koronkiewicz said. “That’s never good for an offense. Thank goodness they loaded up the box on us, we hit a couple of passes and that made a difference.”
Both teams finished with 216 yards of offense, as the Comets had a 187-151 advantage through the air.
Connor Hansen led the Comet defense with a pair of interceptions, including one in the game’s final minutes. Waupaca also blocked a pair of field goals.