Find a way to stop Garrett Groshek.
Iola-Scandinavia’s football team couldn’t do it Oct. 18 and the result was a 50-15 loss to Amherst in a Central Wisconsin 8 Conference matchup.
The loss didn’t hurt the Thunderbirds’ playoff chances, however, as I-S had already qualified for the postseason. The T-Birds received a No. 3 seed in Division 6 and will host sixth-seeded Crandon at 7 p.m. Friday, Oct. 25, at Thunderbird Field in Scandinavia. Amherst are also in the playoffs and will open the playoffs at 7 p.m. Oct. 25 at home against Colby. The Falcons are a No. 3 seed in Division 5, while Colby is a No. 6 seed. The Falcons handed the Hornets a 34-6 defeat in Level 4 last year and went on to beat Lancaster in the state championship game.
Groshek, Amherst’s sophomore quarterback, returned a pair of punts for touchdowns against the T-Birds, threw two touchdown passes and ran in a two-point conversion as the Falcons scored on three of their first four possessions to take a 21-0 lead.
Trenton Piotrowski’s interception set up Amherst’s first touchdown, Connor Zblewski’s 1-yard run, on the game’s opening drive. A high snap that sailed over the head of I-S punter Nick Wavruk set up the Falcons’ second score, Groshek’s 5-yard pass to Wyatt Brooks. Groshek returned a punt 45 yards to give the home team a 21-0 advantage.
The Falcons added to their lead in the second quarter on Groshek’s 34-yard TD pass to Garth Groshek. Garrett Groshek ran the two-point conversion for a 29-0 lead.
The T-Birds got on the board later in the quarter on Wavruk’s 24-yard pass to Issac Lashua.
Zblewski scored on a 53-yard run in the third quarter, Garrett Groshek returned a punt 70 yards and Zblewski scored from 62 yards out. Wavruk and Lashua capped the scoring in the third quarter with a 17-yard touchdown pass. Wavruk then found Evan Fuhs in the end zone for the two-point conversion.
Zblewski finished with 200 of the Falcons’ 253 rushing yards, while Amherst’s defense held the T-Birds to 68 yards on the ground. The T-Birds did have a 141-50 advantage in passing yardage, with Wavruk completing 13 of 29 attempts, including three to Kristian Welch for 50 yards and two to Lashua for 41 yards and the two scores.
Amherst held a moment of silence before the game for Kayla Toelle, the Amherst junior who passed away at her home unexpectedly Oct. 16.
“I’m really proud of the guys with how resilient they are,” Amherst coach Mark Lusic said. “I told them to accept the challenge and they were ready to play. It was nice to see.”
An early 21-0 deficit helped take the T-Birds out of their game, I-S coach Scott Erickson said.
“We ended up having to play catchup football,” he said. “You can’t when you make mistakes on special teams and defense. We did some things offensively, but we just didn’t show up on special teams and defense.”
The T-Birds were able to move up in the final CWC-8 standings after finishing in eighth place last year. I-S went 7-2 this season, including a 5-2 mark in conference play, good enough for third place behind Shiocton and Amherst.
“We got a lot better than last year, but it takes a whole team to make a huge difference,” Erickson said.
Lusic hopes the Falcons are ready for another deep playoff run.
“I hope we’re peaking at the right time,” he said. “We’re back to being 0-0 (for the playoffs). Our goal is to go 1-0.”