By Murray Gleffe
ASHWAUBENON – When people discuss football, you hear about the key throw, big run, nice catch or the tackle for a loss.
Rarely do members of the back four of a defense get headlined.
In a 24-13 Fox River Classic Conference victory over Green Bay Preble Sept. 6, Ashwaubenon’s secondary had a pick-six and five pass deflections on Preble’s star receivers.
“Unbelievable job what Noah [Leisgang], Dawson [Dembroski], Mitch [Opperman] and Kaden [Appleton] were able to do out there,” said Ashwaubenon head coach Brian Ryczkowski. “Those two [Preble receivers] are 6’4/6’5 and create match-up nightmares.”
Ashwaubenon (3-0 overall, 3-0 FRCC) running back Connor Ramage carried the ball 19 times for 82 yards and quarterback Cadian Vang threw for 182 yards and two touchdowns.
The Hornets (1-2, 1-2) were led by 5-foot-9, 220-pound Jamar Howell’s 93 yards rushing, while Chris Byrnes added 54 yards and two touchdowns on the ground.
Preble committed two costly turnovers and had four late hit or face-mask penalties to keep Jaguars’ drives alive.
Both teams moved the ball on their opening drive, but neither could capitalize.
On the Jaguars’ second possession, Vang threw a screen pass to Ramage, who made a one-handed catch and scrambled 37 yards for a touchdown and a 7-0 lead with 5:46 remaining in the opening quarter.
A minute and a half later, Ashwaubenon went up 14-0 when Dembroski picked off Hornets quarterback Ryan Buergi and went 50 yards untouched to the house.
“We hung tough back there,” said Jaguars safety Noah Leisgang. “We are not the tallest guys, but we all fight hard.”
Trailing by 14 points, Preble went on an 8-play, 72-yard drive capped off by Byrnes’ 14-yard touchdown run to make it 14-7 near the end of the first quarter.
After a punt by Ashwaubenon to start the second quarter, the Hornets went on another time-consuming drive.
Aided by a couple of costly offside penalties by the Jaguars, Byrnes scored to cut the margin to 14-13.
However, the PAT was blocked, enabling the Jaguars to hold a one-point lead with under two minutes left until halftime.
Just before the clock showed all zeros, Ashwaubenon place-kicker Micky Kiernan booted a 22-yard field goal to make it 17-13 at the break.
The Jaguars got a key interception by Appleton and pass break-up by Opperman to keep the Hornets off the board in the third.
Ashwaubenon’s offense took over, and Vang hit Kyle Krueger for a 9-yard touchdown reception and a 24-13 lead.
Late in the game with the Jags holding an 11-point lead, the Hornets faced a fourth and seven from the Ashwaubenon 11.
After a timeout, the Hornets decided to run Howell, but he was stopped short of the mark, turning the ball over on downs.
“We had an inside run open, and we didn’t execute how we wanted,” said Preble head coach Dustin Gresen. “We gave Ashwaubenon a lot. We’ll fix those mistakes and get better.”
Preble: 7, 6, 0, 0—13
Ashwaubenon: 14, 3, 7, 0—24