NGM Rolls Over OPA 50-20 To Go 3-0
April 15, 2021
"Neither wind, nor rain, nor gloom of night...", not even the Rock County line would stay NGM from its "appointed rounds" on this evening as their Air Raid style of offensive football steamrolled the host Orfordville Parkview-Albany Vikings (OPA) 50 to 20. And how nice it was to be greeted by a COVID Capacity-plus crowd, replete with a band, cheerleaders, and a vocal student section! Few things can stir the emotions quite like that of a high school band playing our national anthem. (Here's hoping the power brokers at NGM will take note and open the gates, allowing more people in to watch this NGM team play football. It is certainly one of the most exciting teams in recent memory).
Senior readers of this paper will immediately recognize four familiar schools here: Orfordville Parkview, Albany, New Glarus, and Monticello as members of that venerable State Line League, bringing to mind, perhaps, those days of yore. Ask anyone, say age 45 or younger, about their knowledge of the State Line League and you can expect a blank stare. Such an inquiry would have better luck finding directions to purchase some frankincense and myrrh. All of which simply implies there was a lot of good DNA represented on this field, for this game, on this evening. But I digress, dating myself in the process.
Nathan Streiff set the tone for the evening, taking the opening kickoff on a pin-balled, tackle-breaking run up to the NGM 43-yard line. In turn, the NGM offense marched down the field. Facing a 4th and 6, senior quarterback Darris Schuett hit Streiff for a first down. Senior running back Cade Femrite, after keeping the series alive with three strong runs, would, fittingly, cap this opening offensive drive with a touchdown run from 5 yards out. A 2-point conversion via pass to Streiff from Schuett and "bang", NGM was up 8-0. PUNCH!
OPA, in contrast, is a ground based team. After taking measure of the NGM defense, it was their speed merchant, senior Jericko Schwartzlow, who bolted around left tackle and raced 60 yards unmolested for an impressive score. COUNTERPUNCH! Now we have a game.
At the 8:03 mark, senior Rudy Wicker would take OPA's kickoff, find a crease, hit the jets and fly 63 yards to the OPA 15-yard line. Several plays later, Darris Schuett would run it in from 4 yards out. Jaylynn Benson's extra point kick went through the uprights with authority. A driving kickoff by NGM's junior Eli Zimmerman and aggressive coverage by senior Cole Walter pinned OPA deep in their own territory. A quick 3-and-out forced a punt from OPA, allowing NGM's Air Raid offense to set up shop on their own 42. Two quick receptions by junior Jackson Parman (who would lead NGM this evening with 5 receptions and 87 yards) would set up a Schuett to Peter Gustafson touchdown with 3:32 left to play in the first quarter. Another Eli Zimmerman kickoff would put OPA on their own 35. The series of exchanges that followed pretty much sums up the theme of the entire evening. A Rudy Wicker sack - a Jaxson Darrow thumping stuff - and a Dain Walter blocked punt gave NGM the ball on the OPA 34. NGM would drive to the 1-yard line as time expired...in this only the first quarter!
To start the second quarter, junior running back Nate Brandes would pound it home for his first touchdown. A penalty ensued on the extra point attempt, pushing NGM back to the 17-yard line. Nary a problem for this Air Raid offense as Schuett found Streiff in the end zone for 2 more points and NGM up 29-6. (The WIAA's leading quarterback Darris Schuett would throw 21 times and complete 16 for 185 yards. Two receptions were for touchdowns. He would also lead all ball carriers with 99 yards rushing and 2 rushing touchdowns. Not a bad night for the young man wearing #13!)
I am hoping I have not lost you, as what followed may be the most interesting 7-plus minutes of the season to date. At the 7:44 mark OPA's T.J. Pulaski intercepted NGM's Schuett, giving them possession on their own 49-yard line. After sputtering their way to a 4th and 3, it was again their speedster, Jericko Schwartzlow, who got the call, got the ball and was quickly at the NGM 11 after a 30-yard sprint. Back and forth plays, plus a penalty, would keep it on the 11-yard line. On 3rd and 11, OPA finally attempted their first pass of the evening. It was an incompletion. Now desperate, on 4th down, another pass would be thrown and this one would find its mark, but a gaggle of NGM defenders were present to greet this receiver, stopping cold his forward progress at the 1⁄2 yard line!
Enter again the NGM Air Raid offense with 2:36 to play in the half. STAY WITH ME HERE - IT GETS EVEN BETTER! With the perfect mix of short passes and strong runs by Cade Femrite, the stage was set for Darris Schuett to hit Nathan Streiff in perfect stride for a 40-yard touchdown play. Friends, that's a 99 1⁄2 yard drive! Cade Femrite would punch it home for an additional 2 points on the conversion, putting NGM up 37-6 with 58 seconds left...still in the second quarter. BUT THERE IS MORE! To the surprise of everyone, and much to the chagrin of the OPA staff, Eli Zimmerman would hit a perfect onside kick which NGM would recover at the OPA 44. A quick strike to Jackson Parman put the ball at the 7. Now, with 24 seconds remaining, another quick strike to Rudy Wicker put the ball on the OPA 1-yard line. With no time outs and the clock ticking, Cade Femrite would cross the goal line, leaving 1 second to spare and putting NGM up 43-6. That 1 second remaining meant that Eli Zimmerman, nursing what had to be a very fatigued leg, would be called on yet again to render one more of his signature low-driving-nearly-unreturnable kickoffs. He did, and sophomore Emery Johnson closed out the half with another of his textbook-perfect tackles in the open field. In just one half of play, NGM's mighty Air Raid offense churned out 280 yards of offense and scored 43 points, while its stingy defense grudgingly gave up 6 points.
This would be a good time to remind everyone that leading any good and successful offensive attack is an aggressive and engaging offensive line. It's an inveterate covenant that remains inviolate. Junior Logan Roach rejoined the NGM O-line this evening, an O-line that pretty much had its way with the OPA defense for most of the game.
Mercifully, and by WIAA rule, the clock would run unabated the entire second half. NGM promptly recovered a fumble in the 3rd quarter and Darris Schuett would take it himself on a 44-yard quarterback keeper for yet another touchdown, thanks in large part to the edge blocking of Rudy Wicker at the left corner. Jaylynn Benson's extra point kick was true, thus concluding the scoring for NGM at 50 points.
The 4th quarter was largely a redux of last week, with the reserves getting some valuable, coveted, and much needed playing time. NGM's sophomore Jackson Eyler showed some strong running, which bodes well for the future. The reserve defense may have been forced to eat a little serving of "humble pie" as it gave up two scores, one coming late with 54 seconds left to play. But hey, in the end, nothing rests as comfortably on the palate nor tastes nearly as sweet as victory. Final Score: NGM 50-OPA 20.
By way of caveat, it is easy to get carried away and focus on this explosive Air Raid offense. Let us not forget the old adage, "It is defense that wins championships". This NGM defense is strong and resilient across the board. Once again, it was Walter Brothers, Inc. (Cole and Dain) leading the way with 16 combined tackles, followed closely by the seniors Nathan Streiff and Ben Copeland with 13 between them. This defense will need to stay strong, NGM-Strong, for the remainder of the schedule.
The next game is this coming Friday as NGM will play host to a very good team, the Cardinals of Brodhead-Juda. The Cards are coming off a fresh and very solid victory of their own. They, too, are undefeated. To be sure, this will be a difficult test. Game time is 7:00 p.m. Here's hoping a good number of fans and students can be in attendance.