By Rich Palzewic
PULASKI – In a defensive battle, the West De Pere football team finally got its offense going late in the second quarter against Pulaski.
Trailing 10-0, the Phantoms scored a touchdown before halftime and added another touchdown and a safety in the second half to post a 16-10 victory over the Red Raiders on Sept. 16.
The Fox River Classic Conference win for West De Pere (5-0 overall, 3-0 FRCC) kept it undefeated heading into its big showdown vs. De Pere (2-3, 2-1) Sept. 23.
Pulaski (3-2, 1-2) came into the game ranked No. 4 in Division 2 in the latest Wissports.net Coaches Poll, while the Phantoms came in ranked No. 6.
“This was the epitome of a team win,” West De Pere coach Chris Greisen said. “To have this Pulaski offense — which is good — and to have our defense do as well as we did in the second half, was a great effort. We showed some grit.”
The Red Raiders jumped ahead 3-0 on a 25-yard field goal from Samuel Murphy a few minutes into the second quarter.
Running back Maverick Cole scored on a 2-yard touchdown run five minutes later to make it 10-0 after Murphy’s extra point.
Cole also had a 23-yard run earlier in the drive.
The score was set up by Pulaski’s defense, which stopped the Phantoms on a fourth-down play at the 37-yard line.
After a nice kickoff return to the 41-yard line, running back Najeh Mitchell scored seven plays later on a 1-yard plunge to put West De Pere on the scoreboard at the 2:39 mark of the second quarter.
“It took us a while to get going offensively, but Pulaski has a great scheme (defensively),” Greisen said. “They have lots of good players — hats off to (Pulaski coach Jerad) Marsh and his staff.”
In the second half, Pulaski had six possessions but couldn’t muster any points.
“We have to figure out a way to score some points,” Marsh said. “It was an excellent football game — a defensive battle. West De Pere gave us lots of looks we haven’t seen yet. They did a nice job defensively.”
The Phantoms put together a nice drive toward the end of the third quarter that culminated in a Duke Shovald to Joseph Joiner 4-yard touchdown pass.
Bryce Smith, who also missed two long field goals on the evening, made it 14-10 after his extra point.
With less than two minutes remaining and Pulaski at its own 2-yard line, a West De Pere sack in the end zone resulted in a safety for the final points of the game.
Now the Phantoms can look ahead to the “Battle of the Bridge” against De Pere. The Redbirds won last season’s contest, 21-16.
“Records don’t matter,” Greisen said. “There’s lots of rivalry between the schools. They got us last year in a rainstorm game. We thought we had them when we got down to the 5-yard line (late in the game), but we fumbled.”
By Rich Palzewic