The most successful football season in Amherst High School’s history came to a disappointing end on the Falcons’ home field.
Amherst came out on the short end of a 14-7 score Saturday, Nov. 5, to Brillion in a Division 5 Level 3 playoff game. Brillion, last year’s Division 5 state champion, will now play Colby in a state semifinal at 1 p.m. Saturday, Nov. 12, in Stevens Point, while Amherst ended its season at 10-2.
“I’m really proud of our kids,” coach Mark Lusic said. “They played unbelievable. I told them at the end of the game to think back to last July and where they were before myself and the coaching staff walked in. We were at the bottom of the conference or darn near close. Two years later, we’re conference champs.
“We took a heck of a football team to the edge,” he added. “I’m so proud of our guys, but the game stinks, no doubt about it.”
Brillion turned the ball over on downs at the Amherst 5-yard line midway through the first quarter and the Falcons responded by going 95 yards. Chris Zblewski tossed an 11-yard touchdown pass to Willie Doll with 1:48 remaining in the period, but that turned out to be Amherst’s only score of the day.
The Falcon defense came up with another stop on fourth down in the second quarter after the Lions drove inside Amherst’s 20-yard line.
Brillion tied the game with 4:22 remaining in the first half, as Eric Kittel caught a 6-yard pass from Blake Klessig and the teams went into the halftime break tied at 7-7.
Amherst started all three of its possessions in the third quarter at Brillion’s 47-, 46- and 39-yard lines, but had nothing to show for it. Two drives ended with a fumble, including one inside the 5-yard line, while the Falcons also turned the ball over once on downs.
Brillion’s Brandon Pribbernow set up the winning score with a 64-yard run on the first play of the fourth quarter to Amherst’s 13-yard line. Trevor Krizinesky scored from 7 yards out with 10:42 to go in the game.
The Falcons had a chance to tie the game late in the contest, but turned the ball over at the Brillion 17-yard line with just under five minutes to play.
Brillion outgained the Falcons 299-212 on the ground, but Amherst had a 92-24 advantage through the air.
Doll came up with Amherst’s only touchdown of the game, but was held to 45 rushing yards and 40 receiving yards.
“He’s a special player,” Lusic said. “I’ll be lucky to coach 20 years. If I do, I don’t know if I’ll ever see a talent like that again. He’s a heck of a player, but all my seniors are. I think they’ll look back at where they came from and be pretty happy with themselves. We put a lot of pressure on our seniors and they all responded. We had nine this year and we’ll have 15 coming back next year, which will be nice.”
Zblewski finished with 86 yards in 19 carries, while Jordan McKellips added 58 yards.
“A lot of teams say they’re not going to let Chris or Willie beat us, but we have a lot of weapons on our team,” Lusic said. “Our seniors did a heck of a job. That’s who you feel the worst for. My freshmen, sophomores and juniors, they have another year or two or three.”
Brillion coach Pete Kittel said he was impressed with the Falcons.
“They came ready to play and our defense gave us a chance,” he said. “Our defense held up in the third quarter and came up with some big plays. Amherst has a lot of speed and talented players and gave a great effort.”