West De Pere survives scare from Grafton
By Josh Staloch
DE PERE – The West De Pere football team started this season’s playoffs without senior starting quarterback Josh Blount.
Despite the loss of Blount, the Phantoms came up with a handful of big plays on both sides of the ball in a 7-3 WIAA Division 2 Level 1 victory Nov. 13 over Grafton.
West De Pere advanced to Level 2, where it will host No. 3 Luxemburg-Casco Thursday, Nov. 19.
“All these guys stepped up,” said West De Pere Head Coach Chris Greisen. “When you lose your senior leader, captain and your quarterback for four years, it’s a big blow to a team. But our guys decided they were going to find a way to win, and then went out and got it.”
After No. 4 Grafton kicked a 20-yard field goal late in the third quarter to go up 3-0, the Phantoms put together their game-winning drive.
Facing a fourth-and-four from the Grafton 35 early in the fourth quarter, West De Pere (4-1) quarterback Sam Aleknavicius found Braydon Skenandore with a 35-yard touchdown pass down the sideline.
Skenandore shed a couple of defenders and then stretched across the goal line for the score.
Grafton (5-2) had an opportunity at the win when its last possession got to midfield.
But, on a third-and-short play, West De Pere’s Gyriece Goodman went around his blocker and leveled quarterback Vincent Cameranesi with a sack that proved to be the game’s final big play.
“Credit the defense – they didn’t give up a touchdown tonight,” said Greisen. “It was tremendous. I’m proud of our kids and our coaches. I’m proud of this whole community and our administration because we’re still playing football.”
The Black Hawks marched to the Phantoms’ 15-yard line on their first possession of the game, but the defense stuffed running back Canon Pfaff for no gain on a fourth-down play.
West De Pere’s Jake Hendricks intercepted his fifth ball of the season halfway through the second quarter to keep the game scoreless heading to the intermission.
The Phantoms got off to a great start in the third quarter thanks to a big kickoff return out to midfield by Najeh Mitchell.
The offense wasn’t able to finish the drive after West De Pere turned the ball over at the goal line.
Grafton’s field goal was set up by a pass interference penalty to the Phantoms’ 29-yard line.
The Black Hawks pushed down to the 4-yard line, but on third-and-short, West De Pere stuffed the ball carrier for no gain, and the visitors had to settle for the field goal.
The Phantoms were outgained in total offense, 286-137.
Aleknavicius was 6-of-8 passing for 75 yards with a touchdown and an interception.
David Vanderlogt and Mitchell had 56 and 15 yards rushing, respectively.