By Rich Palzewic
DE PERE – With the Press Times moving into De Pere starting with the 2018 fall sport’s season, it was a memorable few months.
The West De Pere football team lost a heartbreaking state championship game, while the cross country teams advanced to the WIAA state meet in Wisconsin Rapids.
The following are the top-five moments/stories based on web traffic and input from the staff at the Press Times.
Football team loses 24-point lead: It was a phenomenal year for the Phantoms’ football team, as they finished the regular season with a perfect 9-0 record and a Bay Conference championship.
West De Pere rolled through the first four playoff games by a 139-37 margin but would meet its match in the WIAA Division 3 state title game against Catholic Memorial.
The Phantoms led 24-0 in the third quarter but watched the Crusaders score the last 37 points of the game in the loss.
“We were very fortunate to get up on them early,” said West De Pere head coach Jack Batten. “We capitalized on their early mistakes. The kids played their tails off. I hurt for the seniors right now, our coaching staff and our fans. We will get through it, but it will take some time.”
Girls’ cross country teams win FRCC title; both teams advance to state: It was a historic year for the both the boys’ and girls’ cross country teams.
The girls bested Ashwaubenon at the Fox River Classic Conference meet, while the boys finished third behind Green Bay Preble and Bay Port.
Aisa Longnecker, Kylie Trousil and Jordan Meulemans finished second, third and fourth, respectively, with Andrew Lopez finishing second for the boys.
“The kids ran really well,” said De Pere head coach James Boyd after the FRCC meet. “Before the race when you set a plan, things went even better than that for the girls. They hit their times and we are very happy.”
It was the first time the boys advanced to state since 1994, while the girls made their second-ever appearance.
Woulf, Borley lead Phantoms over Redbirds: In an August 30, 2018, boys’ soccer match, West De Pere defeated De Pere, 2-0, in a clash of cross-town rivals.
Alex Woulf and Spencer Borley each scored a goal in the victory.
“The first year I was here, we lost 9-0 to De Pere, and last year it was 4-0,” said West De Pere head coach Tod Maki said. “This win is pretty special for the kids. They worked hard to achieve it, and my hope is that we can build off this and string together some really positive games in conference.”
The Phantoms would end the year 10-4-2 and finish the Bay Conference with a perfect 7-0 record.
Redbirds stun Trojans with late rally: Despite falling behind 21-6 late in the third quarter, the Redbirds’ football team came all the way back to post a thrilling 30-28 Fox River Classic Conference victory over Green Bay Southwest Aug. 23, 2018, at De Pere High School.
Max Minor nailed a 19-yard field goal with four seconds remaining for the victory.
When asked where that win ranked, De Pere head coach Chad Michalkiewicz didn’t hold back.
“That’s easily No. 1,” he said. “Last November we challenged the guys for behavioral skills and leadership. The guys never gave up, even being down with less than two minutes to go. It’s a rewarding victory and they earned it. It was clearly evident that we were the more disciplined team all night. Southwest kept coming, but we didn’t back down. We knew we weren’t going to make the mistake and we knew that when Southwest made the mistake, we could capitalize. We don’t win this game last season.”
Redbirds serve their way past Pirates: In a September 10 2018 match, the De Pere girls’ tennis team posted a 6-1 victory over Bay Port.
“It’s nice to get a victory,” said De Pere head coach Dave Reinardy. “The groups that won today certainly played to their potential. Bay Port is a team that could have beaten us, so we are happy.”
Carolyn Merkatoris (No. 1 singles), Maeryn Shepherd (No. 2 singles), Hope Carter (No. 4 doubles), Tristyn Lueck-Audrey Ochsner (No. 1 doubles), Jill Reimer-Alayna Kellam (No. 2 doubles) and Sophia McCarty-Molly Quinnette (No. 3 doubles) were all victorious on the afternoon.