Amherst ends CG-Belgium’s football season

Falcons control clock, scoreboard in running over the Rockets

THE REALITY OF the finality of the season hit Cedar Grove-Belgium High School football players moments after a playoff loss to Amherst ended. Waiting for the final team huddle were (from left) Chris Jentges (1), Jack Peiffer (24), Cayden Fisher (23), Brett Feind (67) (Jonah Morales (28) and Marcus Ramirez (72). Hugs, tears and handshakes from fans, former teammates, parents and relatives followed. Photo by Mitch Maersch
Ozaukee Press staff

In a game that could have easily been a state semifinal and two years ago was the championship, Amherst did to Cedar Grove-Belgium what the Rockets have done to most of their opponents this season.

The three-time defending state champion Falcons ran the ball down the Rockets’ throats in a 37-19 victory in a division 5 level 2 playoff game on Friday.

“Amherst is a good football team, and they did a lot of things better than us. They kinda took a script out of our book where they controlled the clock, they controlled the ball, they controlled everything,” coach Dan Schreurs said.

The Falcons had the ball for nearly 17 of the first half’s 24 minutes, building a 16-0 lead. They ran 40 offensive plays to the Rockets’ 19, four of which were punts.

It was the defense that got the team back into the game. The Falcons took the third-quarter kickoff and drove to the 3-yard line when a low shotgun snap scooted through quarterback Lincoln Cullen’s legs.

Tyler Kowalkowski picked up the ball and raced 95 yards for a touchdown, igniting the Rockets’ bench and fans who had been looking for something to cheer about.

“I just saw an opportunity to give our team a spark and I took it. I was just going as hard as I can the whole game,” he said.

No Falcon got close to catching him, but he made sure to check.

“I was looking back, but when I looked back I didn’t see anybody,” he said.

The Falcons responded with a 12-play, 5-minute drive that ended with one of running back Josh Rieck’s four touchdowns on the night.

The Rockets’ offense, which hadn’t been on the field since 45 seconds before halftime, didn’t run a play until there were 3 minutes, 23 seconds left in the third quarter.

“I think this might be the lowest amount of offensive plays we ran in a complete game,” Schreurs said.

“They’re good, and that’s what good football teams do. Generally, we can do that to most teams. We got a taste of our own medicine tonight.”

Down, 23-6, heading into the fourth quarter, Rieck scored on another short run, and this time the Rockets answered.

Quarterback Michael Navis launched a ball that had the height of a punt, A double-covered Max Ford pulled it in for 50 yards.

Two plays later from the 5-yard line, Navis dropped the shotgun snap, rolled left and hit Jacob Peiffer across the middle for a touchdown.

The Falcons recovered the onsides kick, and the Falcons went on a 57-yard drive that Rieck ended with another score.

Navis got the Rockets going again, scrambling for seven yards and then running for another 15. He found Peiffer for 13 yards, ran for five up the middle and, after an incompletion, hit his cousin Wade

Navis in the right corner for a 20-yard touchdown with 4 minutes, 4 seconds to play. Chris Jentges’ extra point made it 37-19.

Rieck had 28 carries for 179 yards and four scores. Cullen ran 22 times for 144 yards and went 7-for-12 passing for 106 yards and a touchdown.

Navis led the Rockets in rushing with 43 yards on 11 carries. He went 7-for-13 passing for 105 yards and two scores. Ford caught three balls for 69 yards.

The Rockets’ defensive stats look impressive, but much of that is because the Falcons running game kept them on the field.

Inside linebacker and defensive leader Ben Anzia had 23 tackles — 11 solo — and a forced fumble that a Falcon recovered. Kowalkowski had 10 solo tackles and 12 total, along with a sack from his linebacker spot. Linebackers Matthew Poull and Wade Navis each had eight tackles, and defensive end Chris Daniels had seven. Linebacker A.J. Schaefer had six tackles.

The No. 3-seeded Falcons (9-2) on Friday travel to No. 1 seed St. Mary’s Springs (11-0), the division 6 champion in 2014, 2015 and last season. The Ledgers got bumped up to division 5 this year due to student population, setting up a loaded sectional of winning programs bumping heads earlier than usual.

“Even the refs said it’s unfortunate that this is a level 2 match-up,” Schreurs said.

The rematch of the 2016 state title game that Amherst won, 38-35, thanks to a controversial fumble call wasn’t nearly as close. It represented the end of an incredible run for the Rockets’ seniors, who have been with Schreurs since he took over the varsity program four years ago.

“There were a lot of questions about the program at that time,” Schreurs said.

“For them to be able to continue buying in and continue this program going in the right direction is just a tribute to them and their dedication. I love those seniors. I love those guys.”

The Rockets won the Big East Conference title the last two years. They advanced to the state title game in 2016 and were a couple of points from returning to Madison last season. This year, they won one playoff game and finished 9-2.

“Forty wins in the last four years — 10 wins a season — most teams will die for 10 games a season,” Schreurs said.

The future continues to look bright. The Rockets’ junior-varsity team went undefeated again, and Schreurs said he likes the emotion he sees in the underclassmen.

Michael Navis, who this year took over for Big East Offensive Player of the Year Jason von Heimburg — who had succeeded Josh Weiss, who set single-season records for passing yards, completions and touchdowns — said it was a “big opportunity and great honor” to be next in the line of star quarterbacks

“It’s actually a huge step for me, for all the work put in, in the offseason, to be able to come out and be quarterback on the varsity team, taking conference,” he said of the season.

Rocket football is a family

The senior Rockets described the football program using the same word.

“Honestly, I’ve never had such a great bond with anyone in my life. I put them equal with my family. It’s a very strong brotherhood. Everyone has each other’s backs, no matter what,” lineman Garrett Dodson said. “We’ll always be together and the community will always be behind us no matter what happens. That’s why I love Rocket football.”

Lineman Brett Feind said, “It’s been a complete family. People are always there for you, and I absolutely love it.”

Running back and kicker Chris Jentges said the program “means everything. “It makes me feel lost now that it’s over. It truly is a family.”

Linebacker Ben Anzia echoed those thoughts.

“It’s like another family. Just playing with my brother, it’s the greatest thing in the world,” he said.

Wide receiver and linebacker Wade Navis, who missed part of the season because he joined the Marines, said, “It’s just awesome. It’s just a big family.”

Defensive end Chris Daniels said Rocket football, especially assistant coach Tim Hatfield, helped him grow as a person.

“Coach Hatfield has always harped on me and kept me in check,” he said.

Lineman and linebacker Trey Ebbers said Rocket football is unique.

“The program has meant the world to us and everyone here. No program in this area really has a team that gets that bond outside the locker room. I don’t think there’s a day after practice where we all just go home. We’re always hanging out and everything, and the program’s only going to get better from here,” he said.



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Wisconsin’s largest paid circulation community weekly newspaper. Serving Port Washington, Saukville, Grafton, Fredonia, Belgium, as well as Ozaukee County government. Locally owned and printed in Port Washington, Wisconsin.

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