November 25, 2021
By David Nordby
The Brillion News
This story appears in the November 25, 2021 print edition of The Brillion News.
MADISON – The Panthers needed just one more stellar performance to bring home the first state football championship in school history.
It was a task they were ready for and delivered in last Thursday’s 17-0 WIAA Division 7 state championship win against undefeated Coleman at Camp Randall Stadium in Madison.
Perhaps the most important play of the game came just minutes into it at the end of the first possession.
Junior defensive end Ryan Taddy sacked Coleman quarterback Noah Nosgovitz on third down at Coleman’s own 23-yard line to force a punt. Nosgovitz, who also handles punting, prepared to boot the ball away to Reedsville. The only problem for Coleman was no one blocked Reedsville sophomore end Camden Dvorachek.
“Well, it was actually pretty interesting because I really was not blocked and that thing hit me straight in the ribs, man. It didn’t really feel the greatest but the victory after knowing I just blocked a punt, felt outstanding, like, that was probably the greatest feeling I ever had in my whole football career so far was just getting that blocked punt back in the end zone and having us at the 10-yard line and setting us up in a great position,” Dvorachek said. “It was really awesome.”
It was the first punt that Coleman had blocked all season. Dvorachek did not see the ball as he sprang into the air, he just knew he was close.
“I just put my arms straight up in the air and closed my eyes and prayed that it would just hit me somewhere, and it hit me right in the ribs,” Dvorachek said.
The Panthers’ offense was set up in golden position after Nosgovitz picked up the blocked punt in the end zone, ran and was tackled on the Coleman 9-yard line.
“Boy, that set the tone,” Reedsville coach Aaron Fredrick said. “That had to be one of the – if not the – biggest plays of that game.”
Fredrick said he thought it left Coleman “shellshocked.”
“I don’t know if they had a miscue or whatever it was. For Camden to just take advantage of that and not be scared … He was just in the right place and made a really hustle play,” Fredrick said.
Westen Liebzeit scored a 9-yard touchdown run the very next play.
“The linemen, you could have fit a semi through that hole,” Liebzeit. “I wouldn’t have been able to do it without them, so yeah, that was awesome.”
“It was just huge for us to get that first play out of our system on offense be a touchdown and to be up 7-0 that quick and then just let our defense settle in,” Fredrick said.
The defense did settle in, and never panicked when Coleman’s offense made plays. On the following possession, the defense stopped Coleman on four straight plays once the Cougars reached the Reedsville 5-yard line.
On first down, Adler Strenn stopped a Trent Mongin run. On second down, Dain Totten and Taddy forced Will Bieber into a six-yard loss. On third down, Jade Busse halted Peter Kuchta’s six-yard gain from advancing farther. On fourth down, Nosgovitz pass attempt was out of the reach of everyone.
“Don’t let them get in our end zone,” defensive lineman Darren Wagner said. “We work on just a lot of normal plays as they are, and we got big boys on the front.”
Following a Reedsville punt, the defense forced the first turnover of the game. Brennen Dvorachek stripped Bieber of the ball and Liebzeit recovered it. Dvorachek capped off a 31-yard drive with a 2-yard touchdown to put the Panthers up 14-0.
Coleman’s offense again appeared to find its rhythm in response to the score when Nosgovitz found Bieber for a 34-yard pass. Again close to scoring, on second-and-goal, Nosgovitz attempted a pass into the end zone. It was intercepted by Liebzeit at the goal line, who returned it to the Reedsville 48.
“They ran the same play the first time they were in the red zone here, so I was kind of ready for it the second time. I saw it coming and stepped in front of (the receiver) and got it,” Liebzeit said.
It looked like Nosgovitz could have run the ball in for a score. Instead Liebzeit read the pass.
“I don’t know how; he must have just got the angle. That was an outstanding play,” Fredrick said.
Following the interception, Liebzeit’s field goal attempt was blocked to end the half, but the Panthers entered intermission with a 14-0 lead following the blocked punt, goal line stand, fumble and interception.
“If we don’t get those turnovers, they score the ball and this is a closer game than what it is,” Wagner said.
“They just fought and refused to let anything in the end zone,” Fredrick said. “Hats off to them. They just did whatever it took. They were just up for any challenge that Coleman was ready to give them.”
Reedsville’s offense never attempted a pass in the game. Instead of throwing, quarterback Brennen Dvorachek ran the ball repeatedly on a variety of designed run plays. Liebzeit (63) and power runner Cole Ebert (55) also produced yards.
“We just stuck to the running game because we knew that’s what we were good at, and I think we showed that here today … That just tells you what kind of football Reedsville is. We’re a running team and we’re really good at it,” Brennen Dvorachek said.
Dvorachek rushed for 128 of the 244. Fredrick said the team planned to and wanted to pass, but the correct circumstances never arose.
The Panthers stopped the Cougars on a fourth-down pass in the third quarter, their only possession of the quarter. A long rushing drive resulted in a 23-yard Liebzeit field goal.
Liebzeit’s game, which included 63 rushing yards, a touchdown, two extra points, a field goal and an interception, was even more impressive considering he broke his thumb early in the game.
“He made huge plays on both ends of the ball. He ran the ball tough and he’s one of the big reasons that we won that game,” Fredrick said.
Following Liebzeit’s field goal, Coleman went four and out. Dain Totten, Wagner and Strenn produced tackles on the drive. Ebert pressured a fourth down throw.
The Panthers took over on their own 36-yard line with 9:07 remaining in the game. Up three scores, the Panthers ran the ball and Coleman could not stop them. As time ticked away, Dvorachek plunged up the middle numerous times and the Panthers could taste a state championship.
“(Brennen’s) essentially a running back at the quarterback position. He can definitely throw the ball but … there’s definitely a lot of designed runs we have for him,” Fredrick said. “We always think that there’s a really good chance he’s going to break one if we just keep giving him enough carries.”
Coleman prevented a long run, but Dvorachek’s 128 yards off 30 carries were all the Panthers needed.
“They were tough yards. He’s a physical kid. He didn’t back down. He just lowered his shoulder and kept his feet moving and he gave us a lot of key first downs,” Fredrick said.
The final drive encapsulated the 2021 Panthers’ ability to play as a team.
“That was special. That was all 11 kids on that field just wanting to put this thing and wanting to bring that gold ball home. Our offensive line blocked tremendous … and that’s a good defense on Coleman’s part,” Fredrick said.
Coleman repeatedly tried to strip the ball away from Reedsville. Despite Ebert running with multiple defenders draped on his back, Liebzeit’s broken thumb and Dvorachek being crowded by Cougars, the Panthers never gave the ball back.
Reedsville ended the game with two kneel downs and celebrated the first state championship in school history.
“They just could not get that ball away as much as they tried,” Fredrick said. “Everything just fell into place, and it was just really special.”
The special drive capped off a run to history.
“I’ve always dreamed of it and now we won and made history,” Dvorachek said.
Reedsville 7 7 0 3 - 17
Coleman 0 0 0 0 - 0
R – Westen Liebzeit 9 run (Westen Liebzeit kick) 0:04, 7-0
R – Brennen Dvorachek 2 run (Westen Liebzeit kick) 6:50, 14-0
R – Westen Liebzeit 23 FG, 6:16, 17-0
Rushing – Brennen Dvorachek R 30-128- 1; Westen Liebzeit R 11-63-1; Cole Ebert R 12-55-0; Will Bieber C 12-48-0; Peter Kuchta C 7-35-0; Trent Mongin C 4-17-0; Owen Kinzger C 4-12-0; Noah Nosgovitz C 4-5-0.
Passing – Noah Nosgovitz C 3-8-49-0-0.
Receiving – Will Bieber C 1-34-0; Tieg Sadowski C 1-18-0