Sellin, Beightol beat the Dutch in the clutch

Defense hangs on in low-scoring classic battle between longtime rivals
By 
MITCH MAERSCH
Ozaukee Press staff

NFL Flims narrator John Facenda, using his deep and dramatic tone, is known for saying “Great players aren’t always great. They’re just great when they have to be,” and that’s what Colton Sellin was last Friday at Oostburg.

The Cedar Grove-Belgium High School senior quarterback had lost top weapon Gabe Egan to a freak injury that week in practice, and the Rockets’ offense sputtered for much of the night at their rival.

But when they needed it most, Sellin was at his best in leading the Rockets to a 14-13 victory.

With less than a minute to play, Sellin hit senior wide receiver Caleb Beightol on a 20-yard seam pass for a touchdown to tie the game. Soccer player Logan Navis calmly hit the extra point to give the Rockets the lead.

The touchdown was the culmination of an 80-yard drive, and in those three and a half minutes Sellin may have cemented his place in the annals of ridiculous Rockets’ quarterback play in recent memory, which include five different Big East Conference Offensive Player of the Year honors.

The touchdown play came on a suggestion from Beightol in the second quarter, coach Dan Schreurs said.

“I sat on it until just in case. I was debating when to pull that trigger,” he said.

The Rockets’ formation had three receivers on the right side. The tight end ran at the safety, and the receiver underneath ran a hook pattern. That opened up just enough space for Beightol to find an opening, but it wasn’t a large hole in which to place a football.

“He beat the corner. The corner didn’t turn his head. He had leverage on him,” Sellin said. “I didn’t even take time to look at the safety. I just had to take a shot right there, just had to fit it in.”

“It was an amazing pass. I couldn’t have asked for it to be in a better spot,” Beightol said.

The Flying Dutchmen, nursing a 13-7 lead, had nearly sealed the win. After the Rocket defense finally slowed Oostburg’s progress on a 41-yard fourth-quarter drive, Devan Laganowski, who already made field goals from 36 and 29 yards, sent a 36-yarder just wide left with 4 minutes and 22 seconds left.

The Rockets embarked on an 80-yard drive that showcased the stuff legends are made of and that caused fans on both sides to put away their fingernail clippers until sometime in spring of 2023: two fourth-down conversions and a touchdown pass reminiscent of all-time greats.

On fourth and three from their own 27, Sellin lofted a ball to the right side that Beightol caught over his shoulder for a 28-yard gain to Oostburg’s 45-yard line. Sellin said he didn’t see Beightol catch it because he “got rocked by the D end.”

Two Sellin runs and an incomplete pass led to fourth and eight with 1:29 left. Sellin ran left for eight yards and got out of bounds, stopping the clock with 1:21 left.

After an incomplete pass, Sellin ran left for seven yards and got out of bounds, then up the middle for seven more, after which the Rockets called their first timeout with 61 ticks to play.

After Deven Soerens was stopped for no gain, the Rockets called their second timeout.

On second and 10, Sellin dropped back to pass and found Beightol for the pivotal touchdown with 49.7 seconds left.

The offense was confident it would score on its final drive.

“We’re always confident,” Sellin said.

“We had full trust in ourselves,” Beightol said.

“We just kept our heads on straight. Afraid of nothing. We just kept movin’,” offensive lineman Matt Navis said.

The game was far from over. The Flying Dutchmen drove to the Rockets’ 43-yard line in eight plays with just enough time left for a hail Mary. But Rockets Matt Navis and Joe Schoeder combined to sack quarterback Donovan DePagter on the game’s final play.

Schreurs said he was proud of his entire team and especially happy for his quarterback and receiver.

“Colton is Colton. We talked all week about he’s gotta lead this team. He’s gotta be the enforcer and not give up. I’m proud of him. This is a big step from him,” he said.

Of Beightol, he said, “It’s great to see him step up.”

Sellin went 5-for-13 passing for 65 yards and a score. He ran 17 times for 122 yards and a touchdown. Beightol caught three passes for 53 yards and a touchdown. Soerens ran 11 times for 63 yards.

The Rockets’ defense also did its job against a team that averaged 34.5 points per game in a four-game stretch this season.

Cornerback Nolan Aponte had 10 tackles, and Soerens had nine at linebacker. Defensive end Billy Navis had eight tackles, and Schoeder at linebacker had seven.

Before the final play, Schoeder said he received instructions.

“Our coach went up to us and told us, ‘Joe, get in the backfield, you gotta get this sack. Otherwise we could be in trouble,’” he said. “He told me to go wide. I went wide. It’s a good thing I listened to him, because it worked out.”

“Wow, what a defensive battle,” Soerens said. “It was a great game. We let up field goals, not touchdowns, which is what we wanted.”

“These nailbiter games — that’s where it’s at. That’s what makes football. You love to get the heart rate up and make it close,” lineman Diego Morales said.

DePagter went 5-for-17 passing for 109 yards and a touchdown and ran nine times for 26 yards. Braden Veldboom ran six times for 66 yards, and Laganowski ran 12 times for 28 yards. Kevin VanStelle caught four balls for 96 yards, and Jayden Bruggink had a 13-yard touchdown catch.

Oostburg scored on its first possession, keyed by a Veldboom 52-yard run.

The Rockets answered with a 53-yard burst by Sellin. He followed a convoy of blockers to the left, then kicked in the afterburners and flew down the sideline.

The Rockets drove to Oostburg’s 6-yard line late in the first quarter, but the Flying Dutchmen stuffed three runs and forced a Sellin fumble short of the goal line on fourth down to keep the game tied.

Oostburg took a 10-7 halftime lead and made it 13-7 late in the third quarter.

It had been a rough week for the Rockets, who lost Egan, their top offensive threat running and catching, when a five-man blocking sled rolled back up on his leg, causing him to get stitches. He is expected to return this week.

“We were playing for Gabe,” Sellin said

Egan’s brother Isiah broke his hand in practice, Matt Navis got dinged up and the bus was late coming to the Rockets’ locker room, Schreurs said.

“We talked about controlling what we could control, and we took control in the last quarter,” he said.

The Rockets kept the Golden Spike traveling trophy that Schreurs said rests on a table in his basement with a ring of dust around it. It started in 2005 with former Lakeland College teammates Scott Ring, the Oostburg coach at the time, and Cedar Grove-Belgium’s Chris Zablocki. The spike represents the railroad tracks that travel through the three communities.

“I was starting to get a little worried that that trophy wasn’t going to go back home with me,” Schreurs said. “I left the dust spot stay on the end table in the basement. It hasn’t been cleaned for a while.”

The Rockets remain the only undefeated team in the Big East Conference at 5-0 and are one win from at least a share of the title. Reedsville is 4-1, but the Rockets already beat the Panthers. Howards Grove and Oostburg are 3-2.

The Rockets host Random Lake (0-5) for homecoming this week, then play at Ozaukee (1-4) on Oct. 14.

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