Any thoughts the Clintonville Truckers had of being competitive with Waupaca’s football team didn’t last very long.
The Comets wrapped up Homecoming week Sept. 27 with a convincing 53-0 win at Haberkorn Field to remain in a first-place tie in the Eastern Valley Conference standings with Appleton Xavier. While the Comets improved to 5-0 in conference play and 6-0 overall, Xavier handed Freedom a 32-14 defeat to set up a matchup Friday, Oct. 4, in Waupaca between the Comets and Hawks that will likely determine the EVC champion.
Waupaca outscored the Truckers 20-0 in the first quarter and 21-0 in the second quarter before finding the end zone two more times in the second half.
“We dominated the game from really beginning to end,” coach John Koronkiewicz said. “Sometimes, it’s difficult kind of game to play, but I think we played it as best we could and kept the score as reasonably as we could. Every single young man on our roster got on the field tonight and they all played well. That’s an accomplishment in itself.”
Besides finding the end zone eight times, the Comet defense also posted its third straight shutout.
“Defensively, we’re playing pretty good football right now and that’s good to see,” Koronkiewicz said. “Three shutouts in a row. Hopefully, that trend will continue. The next couple of games are going to be a lot tougher than this one. We’ll enjoy this one because that’s what you’re supposed to do.”
Clintonville’s problems began on the Truckers’ first offensive play, as Austin Clark went down with what turned out to be a broken leg. The Comets had opened the game with a touchdown drive, as quarterback Nate Jenson took it in from 5 yards out.
Clark’s injury delayed the game for nearly 30 minutes, but the Comet offense didn’t miss a beat, as Jenson scored on an 8-yard run and Nate Nelson added a 6-yard run to give Waupaca a 20-0 lead heading into the second quarter.
Backup running back Craig Moloney, who led all rushers with 143 yards, scored on an 80-yard run in the second quarter, while Nelson added 15- and 24-yard TD runs to make it 41-0 at halftime.
Joe Balicki scored on a 30-yard run in the third quarter and Cannon Hermanson, another reserve player, scored from 41 yards out in the fourth quarter to wrap up the scoring.
The Comets outgained the Truckers 410-80 and had a 396 to minus-33 advantage on the ground. Clintonville, however, did have some success through the air, as Skyler Lehman finished with a game-high 77 receiving yards and the Truckers finished with 113 passing yards.
“I don’t know if that’s good or bad for us,” Koronkiewicz said. “We’re going to see a few teams down the road that obviously through the ball. We’re going to have to be very sharp in our defensive secondary and work on our coverage. They have a tough time playing the ball once the ball is in the air. They’re in pretty good position normally to make a play. We’ve been working on it, working on it and working on it. Hopefully, it’ll pay dividends for us. I know it’s a tough place to play back there and those guys are giving their all in an effort to produce. We’ll see what happens.”
Koronkiewicz said he understands how the Truckers are feeling after getting off to an 0-6 start.
“I remember a long time ago and we were almost in that situation,” he said. “All you can have your players do is show up and stay out. If you can do that, then you can build. That’s what they’re trying to do at this point. They’re trying to make the game as enjoyable as they can. You don’t always win. You still have to be able to be able to take some of the lessons and make them yours.”
Before the Comets host the Hawks, they’ll have to take on Little Chute at 7 p.m. Friday, Oct. 4, on the Mustangs’ home field.
“They’re a very good football team with a lot of talented young men,” Koronkiewicz said. “I checked their roster this past week and they have 25 seniors. I remember a couple of the names and they’re two- and three-year starters. They lost to two pretty good football teams in Appleton Xavier and a very close game, 20-19 game in overtime, to Freedom. That tells me they’re a team on the rise and that’ll be a pretty stiff challenge at their house.”