Written by STEVE OSTERMANN
Wednesday, 28 September 2011 18:16
Bay’s relentless rushing leaves Port searching for answers after tough loss
When the Port Washington Pirates grabbed a 6-0 lead in the first quarter last Friday, it appeared they might be on their way to a pleasant night of North Shore Conference football.A COLLISION WITH a Whitefish Bay defender kept Port Washington tight end Zach Hauser from making a catch in Friday’s game.
So much for first impressions.
After ripping off a 12-play, 74-yard drive for a touchdown on their opening possession, the host Pirates saw their bid for a win over Whitefish Bay fade into a long series of frustrations.
Unleashing a methodical rushing attack, Bay dominated the rest of the game and pulled away for a 41-6 victory.
The Blue Dukes’ speedy backfield — led by the trio of Rashadeem Gray, Deontaye Brown and Julian Posey — piled up 415 yards and four touchdowns rushing on 48 carries. Gray led the way with a game-high 150 yards and two scores.
“We had great difficulty with their speed,” Port coach Tim Greisch said. “They kept running the ball, and we couldn’t stop them enough when we had to.”
Bay — which outgained the Pirates, 472-135, in total yardage — had trouble of its own early in the game.
After taking the opening kickoff, Port faced little resistance reaching the end zone. Quarterback Taylor Devenport capped the Pirates’ first series by throwing a 34-yard touchdown pass to tight end Zach Hauser on a third-and-14 play midway through the first period.
But Bay needed less than three minutes to move ahead for good. A 17-yard touchdown sprint by Gray was followed by the first of six extra points by Colin Downing, and the Dukes owned a 7-6 lead.
The Pirates struggled offensively the rest of the night, with six of their next 10 possessions ending in punts. The other times, they gave the ball up twice on interceptions and twice on downs.
Beating Port’s defense up the middle on quick bursts and to the edges on counter plays, Bay used its running game to take control. By halftime, the Dukes added a 57-yard touchdown run by Gray and two field goals by Downing, including a 22-yarder with five seconds left in the second quarter, and held a 20-6 lead.
The Pirates toughened their defense in the third period, forcing Bay to punt twice and turn the ball over on downs on its first three possessions. However, Port couldn’t get its own offense on track and failed to pick up a first down in the second half.
“We’re kind of tired of being one block away or one missed assignment from making the big play,” Greisch said
“Good teams can’t do that. We’ve just got to do a better job.”
Field position was not in the Pirates’ favor. On average, Bay’s possessions started at its 46, while Port started at its 27.
After taking a 27-6 lead into the fourth quarter, the Dukes sealed the win with two insurance touchdowns.
Bay improved to 2-2 in NSC play and 3-3 overall while Port fell to 1-3 in the league and 2-4 overall.
The Pirates had few offensive highlights, though Devenport managed to complete eight of 19 passes for 126 yards. Hauser had three catches for 64 yards.
Port will try to bounce back this Friday when it travels to Germantown for a 7 p.m. game — the second in a run of three tough NSC contests that concludes against Cedarburg on Oct. 7.
“I said before the season started that this would be our toughest three games in a row by far,” Greisch said.
“We just have to keep working and find a way to play better. It doesn’t get any easier, but we have to be ready.”
Written by STEVE OSTERMANN
Wednesday, 28 September 2011 18:14
One of the first goals for the Grafton High School football team this season was building confidence, especially in its new triple-option offensive scheme.
With that step taken, the Black Hawks have to work on starting stronger in games.
The latest case in point came last Friday when Grafton fell behind, 17-0, and couldn’t recover in a 31-14 homecoming loss to Nicolet.
“We got off to a slow start again, and it hurt us,” Grafton coach Ben Chossek said.
“Nicolet took it to us a little bit physically early in the game, and we didn’t really respond, which was disappointing. We started to get that going in the second quarter,
but by then we had to climb out of another hole.”
The Hawks, who matched their season-high scoring output with a pair of fourth-period touchdowns, had a good shot at their first win against a foe that like them
started the night 0-3 in the North Shore Conference.
However, Nicolet jumped ahead to stay with two short scoring drives in the opening quarter and never trailed.
The Knights capped a four-play, 43-yard march with a 30-yard touchdown pass from quarterback Brandon Kappel to Bryce Bowen with 5 minutes, 10 seconds left.
Bowen snagged the ball off a deflection and raced into the end zone.
A short time later, the lead grew to 14-0 on a 5-yard scoring run by Treland Jenkins.
Grafton’s defense stiffened in the second period, but Nicolet padded its lead with 4:09 left when Kappel kicked a 21-yard field goal.
Compounding the Hawks’ frustrations was having a touchdown called back that could have pulled them within 17-7 late in the second quarter.
After a scoreless third period, Grafton got on the board midway through the final quarter. Quarterback Matt Weisflog directed a nine-play, 77-yard drive that
culminated in a 13-yard touchdown pass to tight end Beau Benzschawel and pulled Grafton within 17-7 with 5:40 left.
Nicolet answered with a 48-yard scoring run by Jenkins to make it 24-7.
On the Hawks’ next possession, they rolled 80 yards in seven plays, with Weisflog tossing a 14-yard touchdown strike to Benzschawel. The score pulled Grafton
within reach at 24-14 with 3:55 left.
However, the Knights sealed the outcome with a 16-yard touchdown run by Kappel two minutes later.
“We knew from film that Nicolet was a good team, but we also knew that we could stay with them,” Chossek said.
“We just needed to get off to a better start and get a few more stops at crucial times.”
Weisflog, a sophomore, had one of his best games of the season. He led Grafton in rushing with 66 yards on 18 carries, including a 38-yard keeper, and completed
10 of 25 passes for 131 yards.
Benzschawel, a 6-foot-6-inch sophomore, was Weisflog’s chief target. He finished with six catches for 62 yards.
Although he was disappointed with the loss, which dropped the Hawks to 0-6 overall, Chossek praised his young team’s comeback.
“Our players continue to fight and compete,” he said. “They’ve got a great grasp of what we’re trying to do.
“It’s just a matter of getting off to a better start so that we’re not always playing from behind. It’s difficult when you’re always chasing everybody.”
This Friday, Grafton will continue North Shore play with a 7 p.m. game at Whitefish Bay (3-3 overall, 2-2 conference).