First place in the Eastern Valley Conference football standings will be on the line Friday, Sept. 21, as Waupaca hosts Little Chute at 7 p.m. at Haberkorn Field in the Comets’ annual Homecoming game.
The teams come into the game unbeaten. Little Chute has posted conference wins over Fox Valley Lutheran, Ripon, Freedom and Winneconne. Waupaca’s 3-0 mark in the league includes a 42-8 win Sept. 14 over Clintonville.
The Comets didn’t waste any time taking the lead for good against the winless Truckers, as Sam Menzies and Nate Jenson hooked up for a 75-yard touchdown pass on the second play of the game.
Beau Ash added a 3-yard run later in the quarter and Menzies tossed a 33-yarder to Brando Vasquez to give the Comets a 21-0 lead heading into the second quarter.
“That’s what we wanted to do,” coach John Koronkiewicz said. “We came in really kind of expecting to win, quite frankly. We just wanted to perform well in the first quarter and we couldn’t have asked for anything better. Sam threw a couple of spot passes right on the button. It was nice to see Joe Nelson come down with one, it was nice to see Brando make a big play. Those are all things that we’re working on so we’re more diversified and I think it’s paying off.”
Menzies threw his third TD pass of the game, a 10-yarder to Nelson, with less than a minute to go in the first half.
Clintonville came up with its first scoring drive of the season to start the second half, as Nicholas Hogen threw a 19-yard scoring pass to Skyler Lehman.
Menzies added a 1-yard TD run later on the Comets’ next drive and Nate Nelson capped the scoring with a 4-yard run in the fourth quarter.
Waupaca outgained Clintonville 213-17 on the ground and 231-113 through the air.
The Comets gained more than half of their rushing yards – 107- in the fourth quarter alone and played the second half Jenson on the sidelines.
“We didn’t want to press our luck at this point,” Koronkiewicz said. “Nate could’ve played, but he was happy with what happened in the first half. It was a long halftime because of the activities and it was a little cooler this evening, so we just thought we better put him on the shelf and let some other guys get some time on the field.”
The Truckers came into their fourth game looking for the first points of the season and their 3-5 defense gave Waupaca some problems at times, according to Koronkiewicz.
“Because it’s an aggressive defense with people coming from different angles and different directions, you don’t always know which way they’re going to come,” he said. “It only takes one guy to miss to have the offensive play messed up and I think that happened a couple of times. For the most part, I thought our guys did a pretty nice job of picking up blitzes. When Sam went back to pass, he had adequate time to throw.
“Defensively, we were good against the run, but at times our tackling wasn’t as crisp as it could have been,” he added. “We’re going to have to be sharper there in the upcoming weeks.”
Zander Neuville added a pair of blocked punts.
“He’s got an uncanny ability even in practice to put a lot of pressure on our kickers,” Koronkiewicz said. “He gets in at the right time, he’s explosive, he’s long and he’s not afraid. You put all those things ingredients into the pot and good things are going to brew out of it.”
Last year’s Homecoming game turned out to be one of the most memorable Comet wins in years, as Waupaca and Appleton Xavier scored three touchdowns each in the fourth quarter and the Comets held on for a 37-31 win. The teams went on to share the conference championship.
“It was hard to not to begin to look past this game to the Little Chute game,” Koronkiewicz said. “It’s human nature. It’ll be a great matchup. Both teams are undefeated. We’re playing in a big game and as a football team, there’s nothing more you can ask for.”