Now that the high school football season is past the halfway point, the Waupaca Comets are in the hunt for another conference championship.
The Comets improved to 5-0 on the season and 4-0 in the Eastern Valley Conference Sept. 20 with a 28-0 win over Berlin.
Although Waupaca’s defense recorded its second straight shutout, it wasn’t easy, according to coach John Koronkiewicz.
“I could tell by watching film that Berlin has a quality football team,” he said. “They have physical kids, they ran hard and defensively, they crowd the line of scrimmage and make you do some things that normally you don’t want to do. We found some things that worked for us, though.
“I think you have to give credit to our defense,” he added. “That’s eight quarters in a row (without allowing a point). That means we’re getting a little better on defense, maybe a lot better. We still gave up a couple of plays that I thought we shouldn’t have given up, so there’s always room for improvement. Anytime you register a defensive shutout, you can be proud of your effort.”
Four players scored Waupaca’s four touchdowns. Brando Vasquez caught a 10-yard touchdown pass from Nate Jenson with 10:11 remaining in the second quarter and Jenson capped a 95-yard drive with 9 seconds remaining in the half with a 10-yard toss to Zander Neuville, who battled a Berlin defender for the ball in the back of the end zone and hung on.
“I thought the drive right before the half was a critical drive,” Koronkiewicz said. “We went 95 yards, used up our time and didn’t panic. I thought that was a pretty composed offensive unit that executes at crunch time.”
Referees discussed the play for several seconds before calling Neuville’s catch a touchdown.
“I think they were looking at the foot as far as inbounds or out of bounds,” Koronkiewicz said. “Give credit to Zander. The ball was thrown up, he battled and came down. It was kind of a dual possession, but he hung on and got a foot in. That was a big score right before the half to put us up 14-zip.”
Waupaca’s first drive of the second half was a quick one, as Jenson scored from 61 yards out on the first play. Nate Nelson capped the scoring with a 5-yard run with 5:36 remaining in the game.
Waupaca outgained Berlin 364-161 and had a 258-53 advantage in rushing yards. Nelson led all rushers with 158 yards, while Jenson chipped in with 96.
“It’s hard to go on the road and play at somebody else’s house,” Koronkiewicz said. “We’re happy to leave here with a victory.”
Waupaca will host Clintonville at 7 p.m. Friday, Sept. 27, for Homecoming.
“We always put a lot of emphasis on that particular game,” Koronkiewicz said. “It’s the one where everyone’s involved and it’s the climax of a week of spirit building.”