Phantoms blank Comets in blowout win
By Rich Palzewic
DE PERE – After two close games to begin the season, the West De Pere football team got a break.
Leading 34-0 after one quarter, the Phantoms cruised to a 61-0 Bay Conference victory over Waupaca Oct. 30 at West De Pere High School.
The game was held without fans due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
The Phantoms (2-1) had a 55-0 lead at the break, which instituted the running clock in the second half.
With Waupaca (0-5) driving late in the game for a potential score, West De Pere’s Shane Kempen intercepted a pass in the end zone to preserve the shutout as time expired.
“That was a great play by Shane,” said Chris Greisen, West De Pere head coach. “There’s pride in getting a shutout – it doesn’t matter if it’s the first or last play of the game, we have a goal of keeping the opposition out of the end zone.”
Kempen’s interception was one of four during the game for the Phantoms.
Jake Hendricks had a pair of first-half picks and Thomas Mudd nabbed one at the goal line a few minutes into the fourth quarter.
“The coaches gave us a great game plan, and we executed things,” said the senior Hendricks. “You never know if this is your last game (because of COVID-19), so it was a good win. Tonight’s game was a little different, but we always try to play each play like the score is 0-0. It’s full effort all the time. It was great the younger guys got some playing time, too.”
David Vanderlogt (12-yard run), Braydon Skenandore (48-yard pass from quarterback Josh Blount) and Najeh Mitchell (52-yard run) each scored to give West De Pere a 20-0 lead five minutes into the contest.
On Waupaca’s third possession of the game, Hendricks picked off a Luke Schwenn pass and raced 33 yards to pay dirt for a 27-0 lead.
After Vanderlogt scored his second touchdown, this time from 10 yards out, the Phantoms led 34-0 after the first quarter.
“We certainly came out with some fire,” said Greisen. “We have some explosive players who made some big plays to get us started.”
Mitchell sprinted 66 yards for his second touchdown, and Hendricks’ second interception early in the second quarter led to a 38-yard touchdown run by Blount and a 48-0 advantage.
Mitchell closed out the first 24 minutes of play with his third score of the half – a 38-yard run to make it 55-0.
Mitchell, who rushed for 311 yards on 19 carries, finished off his night with a 2-yard score late in the third quarter.
“David and Najeh are a great one-two punch,” Greisen said. “Last week against Xavier, it was David, and this week, it was Najeh. We had some great blocking up front.”
Blount was 3-of-4 passing for 86 yards passing and added 44 yards on the ground.
West De Pere outgained the Comets in total yardage, 475-203.
Phantoms kicker Bryce Smith booted six extra points, while Caden Maus added one.
For the Comets, Schwenn was 15-of-30 passing for 149 yards.
Vincent Nikolai hauled in six balls for 26 yards, while Hunter Marcom (72 yards) and Devin Geary (68 yards) each nabbed five.
“We don’t take any game for granted, and the kids are having fun,” said Greisen. “We had three drives with only play, so we had a nice rhythm tonight. In a game that’s this far out of reach, I keep on the guys throughout the game because we have high expectations. We know we have to play to a certain level. The kids were focused.”
West De Pere should get a stiffer test when it travels to Shawano (4-2) next Friday, Nov. 6, for another Bay Conference game.
“Shawano is an up-and-coming team,” Greisen said. “They’re a good team with a talented quarterback, running back and receiver. We’ll need to play well if we expect to beat them.”