Fermanich sets new school record
By Erik Buchinger
In his first game of the season, New London’s Parker Fermanich set the school’s single-game receiving yardage record in a 35-14 home win over Waupaca on Friday, Sept. 1.
The Bulldogs’ senior wide receiver finished with 223 receiving yards on seven catches and three touchdowns coming back from a knee injury.
Fermanich said he talked about setting the receiving yardage mark with previous record-holder Hunter Zaddack, who accomplished the feat in 2015.
“I told my friend Hunter I was going for that record the first game I’m back,” Fermanich said. “I didn’t know if I could. I just wanted to do what’s right for my team, and it ended up that I got the record, so shout out to Hunter Zaddack for passing the torch to me.”
Just a few weeks ago, setting any type of record did not appear likely as Fermanich thought his high school football career might be over.
Fermanich said he might have torn his meniscus during track season in the spring but did more damage while golfing recently.
“The meniscus didn’t fully tear until I was golfing and was looking at my put,” Fermanich said. “I squatted down, and it popped, so just a freak accident.”
Fermanich said he could not believe what had happened and feared the worst.
“When I first did it, I was so scared and shocked because I didn’t know how long it would be,” Fermanich said. “I thought it could be season-ending, but they told me there’s a chance surgery could be four months or three weeks, and I pushed it and got back in two weeks. Thanks to my mom – she got me in early for the surgery and the MRI and my trainer Kayla for pushing me every day, so big thanks to everybody.”
Fermanich said he was happy to get back on the field with his teammates.
“It was great. When I heard that I couldn’t play, I was really sad because I wanted to play with my team,” Fermanich said. “It’s my last year with this group of guys, and I wouldn’t trade it for anything. When I got back out here a week earlier than I thought, it just felt amazing.”
In the first quarter, Fermanich caught a slant from senior quarterback Jack Noffke and turned up field for a 49-yard touchdown run for the first score of the game.
When he returned to the sidelines, Fermanich was greeted by Bulldogs’ head coach Marc Marsh, who hugged him and yelled, “Welcome back, buddy.”
“We were going to miss him when he was out – not to discredit anybody else, but Parker is a three-year starter for us and a first team all-conference performer,” Marsh said. “We know what we have in him, and it was definitely very thankful to get him back. I think he showed the tools that he has.”
New London went ahead 14-0 on a similar play from Noffke to Fermanich that went for 23 yards.
“It’s incredible. The first two weeks, it was OK without him there,” Noffke said. “We were still confident and ready to play, but having him out there makes a huge difference.”
Noffke completed 12 of 18 yards for 262 yards with three touchdown passes and one interception.
Bulldogs’ senior outside linebacker Garrett Ruckdashel snagged a pass near the line of scrimmage and returned it 35 yards to the end zone to give New London a 21-0 lead in the second quarter.
Waupaca’s Brenden Canterbury ran in from 24 yards out to put the Comets on the board.
Canterbury threw 14 passes and completed five of them for 54 yards with a touchdown and an interception.
The Comets’ sophomore running back Terry Schmidt finished the game with 106 yards on 20 carries.
On the next possession, Fermanich made a diving catch for a 5-yard touchdown. This was set up by a long gain on a one-handed grab from Fermanich.
Another big gainer for Fermanich set up junior running back Makaio Harn’s 1-yard touchdown run to give the Bulldogs a 35-7 lead prior to halftime.
Harn carried the ball 18 times and gained 76 yards with a touchdown.
There was no score in the third quarter, but Waupaca scored late on a 46-yard touchdown pass to senior Jacob Pankratz, who was left uncovered to make it 35-14 with less than a minute to play.
The Bulldogs recovered the onside kick and left their home opener with a victory.
New London outgained Waupaca 350-322 in total yardage. The Comets dropped to 0-3 on the season, while the Bulldogs improved their record to 2-1.
“It was just a great team game, and I was just so happy for the team,” Fermanich said. “We’re going to keep rolling and get a couple more wins here.”