Pirate football accelerating into the playoffs

By 
MITCH MAERSCH
Ozaukee Press staff

A strong second half against another top team in the East Central Conference last Friday gave Port Washington a 29-12 win at Berlin and a 5-2 league record.

Port’s defense made four interceptions in the game and shut out the Indians in the second half, turning a 14-12 lead at the break into a double-digit win.

“We played well. I’m excited to finish strong,” coach John Bunyan said.

Ryan Burmesch, Matt Esselmann, Josh Arnold and A.J. Mrozek each had an interception to shut down Indian drives. Port turned two of the picks into touchdowns.

After being surprised by a no-huddle offense on the first drive of the game, Port started to settle in.

“We did a better job of gap control,” Bunyan said. “The defense played really well against the pass and shored some things up against the run.”

Middle linebacker Brady Krueger had 15 tackles, Anthony Backhaus had 12 and Diego Armendariz, Nick Bensen and Cael Eernisse each had nine.

On offense, Port didn’t fumble or throw an interception. Junior quarterback Ben Fritsch again led the way, rushing 22 times for 147 yards and three scores, catching the Indians on blitzes in the second half. He went 12-for-17 passing for 163 yards and a touchdown.

“He has thrown some good balls. He extends plays with his legs, and guys are getting open,” Bunyan said. “It’s fun to watch when you put the ball in an athlete like that’s hands.”

In five games as starting quarterback after three-year starter Nate Uselding hurt his knee against Kewaskum on Sept. 9, Fritsch ran 90 times for 636 yards (averaging 7 yards per carry) and 13 scores. He has gone 52-for-74 passing (70%) for 755 yards with nine scores and three interceptions.

Esselmann caught five passes for 58 yards, Arnold caught two for 40 yards and a score, and Burmesch had two for 31 yards.

It was Port’s second straight win over a team tied for the conference lead after beating Plymouth, 27-24, in the last minute the week prior.

Kewaskum beat Plymouth last Friday to win the East Central at 6-1.

Port, Berlin and Plymouth all finished 5-2. Kettle Moraine Lutheran and Sheboygan Falls were 3-4. Ripon was 1-6 and Waupun was 0-7.

Port finished the season 7-2 overall, received a No. 2 seed in the Division 3 playoffs and hosts No. 7 New Berlin Eisenhower at 7 p.m. Friday. The Vikings are 6-3 overall and were 4-3 in the Parkland Conference. Leading rusher Adison Tevz has 512 yards, along with 171 receiving yards.

Quarterback Matthew Collicott ran for 479 yards and has thrown for 482.

“They’re big. They’re physical. They run the football well,” Bunyan said.

“It’s playoff football. It’s all good football now.”

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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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