De Pere, Michalkiewicz end ‘crazy’ week on high note
By Greg Bates
GREEN BAY – Chad Michalkiewicz summed up the last week as “crazy.”
That might even be an understatement by the De Pere football coach.
Michalkiewicz and his wife, Tracie, welcomed their second child to their family, Ava, who was born Wednesday morning, Sept. 1.
The couple has another daughter, Zoey, who is a year and a half.
Because he was in the hospital, Michalkiewicz had to miss the first day of school as well as a couple of football practices leading up to their game Friday at Green Bay Southwest.
But when game time rolled around, Michalkiewicz was on the sideline – and he had a big smile on his face to boot.
Michalkiewicz certainly had plenty to smile about as the Redbirds had about as perfect a first half as possible.
De Pere took advantage of two Green Bay Southwest turnovers and scored on each of its first six drives, cruising to a 42-0 victory in the Fox River Classic Conference-North opener for both schools.
De Pere (2-1 overall, 1-0 FRCC) has relied heavily on quarterback Gabe Herman to lead the way mostly through the air the past two seasons, but Friday night was a different story.
The Redbirds ran all over the Trojans, amassing 26 carries for 199 yards (7.7 yards per carry) and six touchdowns.
Michalkiewicz said he thought it was great to take pressure off Herman’s shoulders for a night.
“It’s good,” Michalkiewicz said. “In a weird way, it demonstrates his leadership. At no point was he like, hey, I’d like to throw at least one touchdown. He doesn’t care about his stats. He got a couple on the ground, which was nice a side note for him.”
Devin Koskey took the weight on his shoulders and produced in a big way.
The junior – who came into the game with two career starts and 64 yards rushing – had 10 carries for 147 yards and three touchdowns.
“Our O-line had a great push, and we came out together,” Koskey said. “We’ve been practicing this stuff and executed as we should. I’m glad results happened the way it happened.”
Michalkiewicz said he was encouraged to see Koskey have a breakout game.
During De Pere’s preseason scrimmage against Stevens Point, Michalkiewicz and his staff saw Koskey make some nice cuts.
“He’s the right type of back for this offense,” Michalkiewicz said. “When we get into our heavy set, we give the ball to (Michael) Alexander some, so (Koskey) hasn’t had the stats. To have him explode like he did was big. We’re an explosive offense in both our ground game and through the air. To see him pop some big ones, that’s what we’re looking for.”
Michalkiewicz said it was an important night for the offensive line to continue to gel on the field.
“They’re stepping in the gap together,” he said. “Zone is simple in concept, and it’s difficult to master. That’s the route we’ve gone for several years now. We would rather fine-tune simplicity, and they’re starting to get it. It looked good tonight.”
De Pere’s first two drives were set up by Green Bay Southwest turnovers – a fumble recovery by Coltin Blahnik and an interception by Matthew Ahrenholtz.
Koskey scored on a 14-yard run on the first drive, and Alexander ran one in from five yards out on the Redbirds’ next possession.
“We turned the ball over early, which gave them a short field and executed – they clearly were the better team,” Green Bay Southwest co-head coach Aaron Van Eperan said. “Offense, defense and special teams, they took it to us tonight. That shows us the gap, right. That’s where we want to be. That shows us the gap in the conference right now.”
On De Pere’s third drive, Koskey took a pitch and raced 22 yards for a touchdown.
He also added a 2-point run to make it 21-0 only 5 minutes, 23 seconds into the game.
“Our run game is strong,” Koskey said. “It hasn’t been that strong, but we’re putting it together and it’s going to get there.”
After forcing Southwest (0-3, 0-1) to punt on back-to-back possessions, De Pere got the ball back.
Herman opened the drive with a nine-yard run.
Koskey finished it off with a 49-yard touchdown scamper.
Just eight offensive plays into the game by De Pere and it was up 28-0.
It wasn’t until late in the first quarter that Herman completed his first pass – hitting Jack May for 16 yards to get De Pere back into Southwest territory at the 47.
Herman connected with backup quarterback Micah Schaut for a 15-yard catch.
Forced with a fourth-and-10 at the 32, Herman found Grant Hohol for 18 yards.
Three plays later, Herman scored on a 13-yard run.
Another three-and-out by the De Pere defense – its third of the game – set the offense up again.
During an 11-play drive, Herman called his own number four times, the last one culminating in a two-yard touchdown run.
Herman finished 5-for-10 passing for 80 yards.
He added 33 yards on the ground on eight carries.
May led the way for receiving with three catches for 47 yards.
Southwest will travel to Pulaski (3-0) Sept. 10 and host Green Bay Preble (0-3) the following week.
De Pere hosts Ashwaubenon (0-3) next week and then has the big showdown at Bay Port (3-0) the next Friday night.
With Bay Port looming on the schedule, Michalkiewicz said his players won’t look past Ashwaubenon.
“Even if they come in 0-3, we’ll take that game seriously,” Michalkiewicz said. “There won’t be any letdown. We will respect that program and try to get a win.”