Big plays fuel New Richmond football team in 35-20 win over Amery
The offense run by the New Richmond football team this season is designed to produce big plays.
It did just that on Friday. All five of New Richmond’s touchdowns were from 20 yards out or further as the Tigers earned their second Middle Border Conference win of the season, defeating Amery 35-20.
This was Senior Night for the Tigers and they played inspired ball from the opening play of the game. New Richmond received the ball first and the Tigers promptly marched 68 yards in nine plays in the opening drive. Four of the nine plays produced 11 yards or more, including the 23-yard touchdown pass from quarterback Sevin Davis to halfback Allan Wollenberg. This was Wollenberg’s first varsity touchdown. It was made possible by an excellent downfield block by Dylan Dowd, who cleared the final Amery defender out of Wollenberg’s path.
The Tigers were equally as effective in their second possession, driving 65 yards for a touchdown. On a third-and-long play, Davis faked a handoff to halfback Connor O’Loughlin. No Amery defender went with O’Loughlin who was left wide open as he swung down the Tiger sideline. Davis found him with a pass that produced a 31-yard touchdown.
After dominating the first quarter, the Tigers gave up a couple big plays in the final minutes of the quarter that gave Amery life. The Warriors scored on the first play of the second quarter on an 18-yard run by Jordan Luehman.
Amery still couldn’t find a way to stop the Tiger offense. A long kickoff return by O’Loughlin put the ball at the Tiger 46. It took the Tigers less than three minutes to score. This time it was Davis on a quarterback draw, taking the ball up the middle before veering to his left for a 20-yard touchdown.
New Richmond ran a no-huddle offense for much of the night and the Tigers had the conditioning to maintain that pace with no issues.
“We have less kids, but we’re able to run a faster tempo,” said Tiger coach Keith Badger.
The one glaring mistake of the night by the Tigers gave Amery a touchdown in the final moments of the first half. From deep in their territory the Tigers tried to run a hurry-up offense. A pass over the middle was intercepted by an Amery linebacker, setting up Luehman for his second touchdown of the game. Instead of leading comfortably, the Tiger lead was cut to 21-14 at halftime.
Amery started the second half with an energetic drive, but it was ended on a third down sack by the Mehls brothers, Keilan and Liam. Keilan, the older of the brothers, would make one of the game-turning plays on Amery’s next possession. The Warriors tried to run an inside handoff, but the ball was fumbled. Keilan Mehls scooped up the ball and raced untouched 25 yards to the end zone for the score that put the Tigers in front, 28-14.
Amery had good field position for much of the fourth quarter, but the Tigers made several key plays to stop Amery scoring threats. The first was a diving interception by Davis in the opening moments of the quarter. Dominic Ficociello came up with a fourth down sack to stop another Amery scoring threat.
That set up the back-breaking touchdown. O’Loughlin swept toward the Amery sideline, then cut back behind a wall of blockers at the Amery 30 to complete a 74-yard touchdown run.
Badger said Dowd was joined by linemen Noah Berger and Ben Peterson in the downfield blocking for O’Loughlin on that play.
Badger said the big plays are being produced as the team’s offense evolves.
“Now we’re reaching a place where we’re comfortable,” Badger said.
Another key was getting more players involved in the offense. Davis and O’Loughlin have been responsible for the vast majority of the offensive plays this season. In this game the coaches made sure to get Ficociello and Wollenberg more involved in the offensive game plan.
Friday’s game was also the Tigers’ “Coaches Versus Cancer” game. Badger brought this idea from the Twin Cities area, where it has become a highly successful fund-raiser in the battle against cancer. He said he’d like to see the idea take off all around western Wisconsin. Fans from New Richmond and Amery donated $555 during a halftime event and the Tiger Football Boosters were able to raise $1,000 to donate to the American Cancer Society Relay For Life.
The Tigers complete their season this Friday when they play at Osceola on the Chieftains’ new artificial turf field. The teams are tied with 2-4 conference records. Osceola was expected to be a contender for the conference title this season, but those expectations never materialized.
“I expect them to be a big physical team,” Badger said. “I’m expecting their best and we have to be ready to match it.”