NIAGARA, Wis. — Behind three touchdowns through the air from quarterback Mark Schaefer, Living Word Lutheran of Jackson, Wis., defeated Northern Elite 26-16 at Marvin Roeple Field in Niagara on Saturday.
It was the season opener for both teams as the three school co-op N.E Predators, are competing in 11-player football for a final season in 2021. Beginning next season, Niagara will shift to WIAA eight-player competition, while Goodman-Armstrong Creek High School and Beecher-Dunbar-Pembine High School will co-op and field an eight-player team as well.
The Timberwolves, who are members of the Midwest Classic Conference, got on the scoreboard first with a 47-yard touchdown pass from Schaefer to Allen Torian less than three minutes into the contest.
After each team had short drives that resulted in punts, the Predators launched a 67-yard drive that ended with a 1-yard touchdown run early in the second stanza by Landon Kalkofen. The senior running back added the two-point conversion on a run, giving the home team an 8-6 advantage.
LWL followed with a drive of its own, with junior running back Jaron Crowder breaking lose for a 27-yard touchdown dash into the west corner of the north end zone. Tight end Matthew Fox hauled in a pass from Schaefer to give the visitors a 14-8 lead.
“Controlling the line of scrimmage is something we wanted to key in on this season,” said LWL head coach Tim Zbytniewski. “I feel we definitely did that today. We have upperclassmen on the line on both sides of the ball who have been with us for three or four years, and they did their jobs today from experience.”
After a Predators fumble with 34 seconds remaining in the half, the Timberwolves scored as time expired on a 32-yard touchdown catch by Crowder. Kalkofen intercepted the 2-point conversion attempt as LWL took a 20-8 lead into the intermission.
“Their physicality and depth up front kept us reeling most of the game,” said first-year Predators head coach Brian Bousley. “We have low numbers, although we have a lot of seniors. But last season we only played two games, so the seniors and also the juniors, didn’t get much game action last season, and that doesn’t help. But we’ll adjust to that as the season goes on.”
After a scoreless third quarter, Fox hauled in a 43-yard touchdown pass from Schaefer early in the fourth for a 26-8 lead.
The Predators put together a nice drive late in the game, ending with Sam Niven scoring from 2 yards out. Kalkofen added a successful 2-point conversion run.
“We have some stuff to improve on. We did move the ball well at times, but then we couldn’t move it at all,” Bousley said. “We hit well and played aggressively at times as well, but I feel this group will work hard at improving.”
The Predators (0-1) return to action on Friday, as they travel to Northwoods Conference foe Peshtigo for a 7 p.m. kickoff. N.E. returns home for a week three matchup with Menominee Indian on Sept. 2 at Niagara.
L.W. L 6 14 0 6 — 26
N. Elite 0 8 0 8 — 16
LWL- Allen Torian, 47-yard pass from Mark Schaefer (run failed), 9:24
N.E- Landon Kalkofen, 1-yard run (Kalkofen run), 10:33
LWL- Jaron Crowder, 27-yard run (Schaefer to Matthew Fox), 7:52
LWL- Crowder, 32-yard pass from Schaefer (pass failed), 0:00
LWL- Fox, 43-yard pass from Schaefer (pass failed), 11:03
NE – Sam Niven, 2-yard run (Kalkofen run), 0:42
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