Mother Nature dooms Southwest in loss
By Greg Bates
Getting game repetition is one important way to get their players experience.
Mother Nature didn’t cooperate with the Trojan players during the second week of the season Aug. 27 against visiting Kaukauna in a nonconference game.
A lightning delay followed by violent rain caused Friday’s game to be postponed before halftime.
With the lightning strikes still coming and the rain being dumped in buckets, a 50-plus-minute delay turned into a cancellation.
Kaukauna led 28-6 with 1:05 remaining in the opening half when the game was called.
While the players waited inside Green Bay Southwest High School for the weather to subside, Van Eperen, Thiry, Kaukauna coach Matt Binsfeld and the referee crew talked about their options for the game.
“We were looking at the weather and we had like a 15-minute window to warm up and then halftime coming up,” Van Eperen said. “With it being a nonconference game, the three of us coaches chatted. They’ve got a big conference game against Appleton North next week, and we’ve got one against De Pere. Warming up again is a huge challenge with guys sitting around for an hour and a half.”
After the coaches talked about it more, it became evident the game was simply going to be called.
“We weren’t going to get on the field again tonight likely with the storms coming through,” Binsfeld said. “Nobody was excited about coming back to play half a game on a Saturday that wasn’t scheduled when kids and families have plans.”
Southwest (0-2) got into Kaukauna territory on its first drive, but it stalled.
Kaukauna (2-0) had a big punt return to set up a two-play drive capped off by a Hunter Natrop 1-yard touchdown plunge.
After the Trojans went three-and-out, the Ghosts scored again to make 14-0 after the extra point.
Another quick three-and-out by the Trojans and Kaukauna started inside its opponent’s territory for the third straight series.
The Ghosts scored again to go up 21-0 with 6.2 seconds remaining in the opening quarter.
Late in the first half, Kaukauna was forced to punt, and the ball sailed over the punter’s head.
Southwest tackled the punter at the 21-yard line to set up the home team with good field position.
On fourth-and-26, quarterback Mason Meyer threw a nice jump ball to Connor Pytleski, who hauled it in for a touchdown.
That gave Southwest life, down 21-6.
“The offensive line did a nice job of giving us time,” Van Eperen said. “(Meyer) did a nice job of dropping a pass in the back of the end zone, and Connor went up and got it.”
Van Eperen said he felt like his guys stole some momentum and were right back in the game down two scores.
“On offense, we’ve had a hard time sustaining drives,” he said. “Lots of times, it’s one or two guys who aren’t doing the right thing or missed an assignment or got beat on a play. Momentum is a powerful thing. It’s a learning process for us, which is what nonconference is for.”
Kaukauna scored again late in the first half to close the scoring.
Meyer finished 5-for-11 passing for 67 yards and one touchdown for Green Bay Southwest.
He also led the team in rushing with eight carries for 24 yards.
Pytleski had a team-leading 64 yards receiving.
Despite playing only 23 minutes of game action, Van Eperen said he’s hoping his players take away plenty from the loss.
“We can learn from our assignments and the things we did well and the things we didn’t do,” he said. “We talked about four-five years ago, Kaukauna looked similar to us, and they committed themselves to the weight room, and now they’re a heck of a football team. We can learn from us and we can also learn from looking at them and the things they did.”
The Trojans have their first conference test Friday, Sept. 3, when they host De Pere (1-1).
“It comes down to our execution,” Van Eperen said. “If we execute our stuff, we can play with any team, but we have to execute at a high level. De Pere is going to require that. They were a heck of a team in the spring. I know they lost Week 1, but they’re clicking.”