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Heartbreak: West De Pere loses on last-second touchdown

By Rich Palzewic
Sports Editor

DE PERE – The tears told the story – West De Pere’s football season ended in heartbreaking fashion.

Scoring with one second remaining on the clock, No. 3-seeded Luxemburg-Casco stunned the No. 1 Phantoms 21-20 Nov. 19 in a WIAA Division 2 Level 2 playoff game at West De Pere High School.

It was the final game of the season for both teams.

Spartans quarterback Owen Deprez hit Jonas Otradivec with an 8-yard touchdown pass on fourth down on the final offensive play to tie the game.

George Herlache’s extra point gave Luxemburg-Casco the win.

“What a game,” said West De Pere head coach Chris Greisen. “Unfortunately, we couldn’t hold them out of the end zone on the final play. Luxemburg-Casco made two great plays on fourth down on that drive.”

Dorner bobbled the ball in the end zone before securing it as he fell to the ground.

The Phantoms had taken a 20-14 lead on running back David Vanderlogt’s 29-yard touchdown pass to Aaron Wagner with 6:10 remaining, but the extra-point attempt was missed wide left.

After both teams punted on their next possession, the Spartans took over at their own 31 with 4:01 remaining on the game-winning drive.

“I’m proud of the guys,” Greisen said. “I feel bad for the seniors who worked so hard all year under difficult circumstances.”

West De Pere’s other loss during the season came when Hortonville also scored on the final offensive play of the game in a week one game.

“We started the season with a tough loss and ended it with another tough one,” said Greisen.

The Phantoms couldn’t have asked for a better start against Luxemburg-Casco.

Vanderlogt took a handoff from quarterback Sam Aleknavicius on the first offensive play of the game and raced 59 yards for a touchdown.

After Bryce Smith kicked the extra point, West De Pere led 7-0.

The Spartans took a 14-7 lead into halftime after a pair of second-quarter touchdowns by running back Isaac VandenBush.

Vanderlogt, who rushed for 137 yards on 16 carries, scored his second touchdown of the night when he rumbled 18 yards around the left end.

Smith’s extra point tied the game at 14-14 about halfway through the third quarter.

Luxemburg-Casco was stopped inside the 15-yard line on its next possession after Gaige Neuman recovered a fumble for West De Pere.

The Phantoms promptly marched down the field, but an Aleknavicius pass was intercepted in the end zone with seven minutes remaining.

A Jourdon Schuyler fumble recovery on the Spartans’ ensuing possession set up Vanderlogt’s touchdown toss less than a minute later.

West De Pere, which again played without starting quarterback Josh Blount, was outgained in total yardage, 356-258.

Luxemburg-Casco also ran 69 plays compared to the Phantoms’ 38.

West De Pere had a difficult time stopping VandenBush, who rushed for 229 yards on 33 carries.

Because of COVID-19, West De Pere was the only Green Bay Metro team to complete a season.

All of the other area schools – besides Seymour – moved their football seasons to the spring.

Despite missing three games because of COVID-19, Greisen, a former NFL quarterback, said the year was a success.

“I learned lots this year as a coach,” he said. “Even after we missed three games because of the virus, I had total confidence we’d come back and finish our season. I’ve said it all year, but I’ll stay it again – our administration did a great job in allowing us to play our season. We wanted to play this fall because there are no guarantees teams will play in the spring, either, But, I hope other teams get to play next March.”

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