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Panthers return to playoffs after four years

October 19, 2017

By David Nordby The Brillion News

REEDSVILLE – It was a good night in Reedsville last Friday night. For the first time since 2013, the Panthers are headed to the WIAA playoffs after a dominant 52-0 home victory against Oostburg.

“It’s been a long time [coming],” head coach Aaron Fredrick said. “It’s been a tough couple of years.”

Entering Friday’s game, the Panthers needed a win against the Big East opponent to improve their record to 6-3 overall and 5-3 in the conference.

Oostburg entered with just one win, but the Panthers did not take them lightly.

“You don’t know what kind of a team they’re going to come [in as],” Fredrick said. “They’re a talented team … We told the kids you cannot overlook these kids.”

The Panthers didn’t. Reedsville jumped out to a 20-0 lead in the first quarter. Brandon Stelzer scored two long touchdown runs in the first quarter and Connor Schwahn returned an interception 54 yards. The lead extended to 39 by halftime.

Fredrick said the coaching staff felt the Panthers were overconfident a week prior against winless St. Mary Catholic and told the team it can’t happen again.

The Panthers came out physical and tallied 409 rushing yards as they averaged 10 yards per carry – both season bests. Javon Lemke led the team with 196 yards and two touchdowns. Stelzer rushed for 160 yards and three scores.

The game moved Stelzer past 1,000 yards on the season – the most by a Panther running back since Brock Gilsdorf in 2013. The junior rushed for over 100 yards in six games this year.

Javon Lemke scores a touchdown during Reedsville’s win against Oostburg. (Roxanne Roffers photo)

“As good of an athlete as he is, he’s an even better kid,” Fredrick says.

Stelzer had a scary play earlier in the year where the team was concerned he was seriously injured. “Your heart stops a little bit because he is that important to us … He’s a coach’s dream … He’s so hard working and a great team player,” Fredrick said.

During the rainy game, and with the game in control, quarterback Carson Schanilec had a quiet night against Oostburg but has over 10 touchdowns this year. It’s the most by a Panthers quarterback in over a decade.

The 6-3 record is overall a massive improvement after the team went 1-17 the prior two seasons. Fredrick said, “keeping the faith” in the program and the kids helped get them through the rough stretch.

“We had a special season,” Fredrick said. “They kind of realized that it was going to be their turn this year to be a better football team … They worked hard in the offseason.”

Another big reason for the Panthers turnaround was the shuffling of their coaching staff underneath Fredrick. Ryan McCulley, Michael Nate and Dan Butler have been welcome additions. Fredrick says the team’s in-game adjustments are much better than they have been. He says it also sent a message to the kids entering the season that they weren’t going to just do the same old thing.

The Panthers now turn their attention to undefeated St. Mary’s Springs, the top ranked team in the state, who they will face on Friday night at 7 p.m. in the level one game of the playoffs.

St. Mary’s Springs is averaging nearly 36 points per game and are 10-0. They have only allowed 34 points all season.

“They’re the best team in the state in the division, and probably a couple other divisions if they played in them,” Fredrick said. “If we’re looking to make a state championship run … this is the way to start.”

Fredrick said a focused week of practice leading into the game and weathering the storm of the team’s high-powered offense on Friday night will be key to staying in the game.

“We get a shot at them first and hopefully we can do some damage.”

Oostburg 0 0 0 0 – 0

Reedsville 20 19 13 0 – 52

Scoring summary:

First quarter:

Reedsville: Brandon Stelzer 40-yard run (Tisler PAT)

Reedsville: Brandon Stelzer 54-yard run (PAT unsuccessful)

Reedsville: Connor Schwahn 54-yard interception return (Tisler PAT)

Second quarter:

Reedsville: Brandon Stelzer 4-yard run (PAT unsuccessful)

Reedsville: Carson Schanilec 13-yard run (Tisler PAT)

Reedsville: Javon Lemke 56-yard run (PAT unsuccessful)

Third quarter:

Reedsville: Javon Lemke 19-yard run (Tisler PAT)

Reedsville: Mason Tisler 1-yard run (PAT unsuccessful)

Reedsville individuals:

Rushing: Javon Lemke 18-196-2. Brandon Stelzer 13-160-3. Mason Tisler 3-24. Carson Schanilec 1-13-1. Sam Eiles 4-12. Braiden Dvorachek 1-3. Noah Roffers 1-1.

Passing: Carson Schanilec 2-2-23-0-0.

Receiving: Braiden Dvorachek 2-23.



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