Players raise money for hospital
By Greg Seubert
It was a chance to lace up the football shoes one more time.
It was also an opportunity to raise money for Children’s Hospital of Wisconsin.
Mike Singer, Josh Cisewski and Chris Thomas, who helped lead Amherst to WIAA Division 5 state football championships in 2015 and 2016, capped their high school careers July 15 at the Wisconsin Football Coaches Association’s all-star football games in Oshkosh.
All three players were selected to the North team in the small-school game, played at J.J. Keller Field at Titan Stadium. Although the North squad led 20-6 early in the second half, the South answered with three unanswered touchdowns in a 25-20 win.
“It was fun,” said Cisewski, who caught one pass for 5 yards. “I got to know all the players from the North and got close with a lot of them. It was a blast playing with them for one last game.
“I was super-excited,” he added. “I was preparing all summer for this week.”
Cisewski, a first-team all-conference wide receiver and second-team defensive back as a senior, will attend the University of Wisconsin-Stevens Point and knows the all-star game could be his last.
“I’m definitely feeling it a little bit,” he said. “I’m not sure what I’m going to be doing 100 percent next fall, but you never know.”
Thomas and Singer played on the North’s defensive line.
“We got to meet a whole bunch of new people and became great friends with them,” Thomas said. “We lost, but there was good team bonding.”
Amherst handed Cedar Grove-Belgium a 38-35 loss last November in the Division 5 state championship game. Josh Weiss set WIAA state championship game records in the game with 383 passing yards, 36 completions and five touchdown passes for the Rockets in the loss.
He put up some big numbers in the all-star game as well, completing 15 of 20 passes for 214 yards, including seven passes for 128 yards to his Cedar Grove-Belgium teammate, Reid Hilbelink.
“That quarterback, he’s a whole other story,” Thomas said. “He knows how to run, he knows how to pass. They made plays.”
Although Weiss and Hilbelink hooked up for the game’s first touchdown that gave the South an early 6-0 lead, the North team led 17-6 at halftime behind a pair of touchdown passes from Two Rivers’ Dawson Kiphart and added to its lead with a field goal early in the third quarter.
“At halftime, we stuck together and said, ‘It’s going to be a different half, we’re going to have to go out there and fight 100 percent,’” Thomas said.
However, the South came up with three unanswered touchdowns, including the game-winner with just under 10 minutes to go in the game. Weiss connected River Valley’s Ryan Wickman for the game’s final points.
“It was kind of different being on the same team as some of the guys that are always your opponents,” Singer said. “It was different, but it was a good feeling. It was pretty cool playing with the best players in Wisconsin. I’m glad I got to end it with some of my best friends I started playing high school football with.”
Singer and Thomas are headed to two-year community colleges to play football.
Singer will play football at Iowa Western Community College in Council Bluffs and plans to transfer to the University of Wisconsin-Madison, where he hopes to eventually play for the Badgers.
Thomas, on the other hand, will play at Central Lakes College, a two-year school in Brainerd, Minnesota.
Players selected to the large-school, small-school and eight-man all-star games collected pledges for Children’s Hospital of Wisconsin and raised more than $457,000.
“It was awesome playing for the children,” Thomas said. “They inspired us. There were kids that went through a whole lot of trouble, a lot of heart problems. We went out there and fought for them. It hit us in our hearts.”
“It was an honor to be here and help the kids out,” he said.