East downs West, earns first victory of season
By Rich Palzewic
GREEN BAY – Similar to the last two editions, this year’s version of the Green Bay East-Green Bay West football game came down to the wire.
Behind a fourth-quarter touchdown run and subsequent 2-point conversion from Talan Leuthoudom, East squeaked out an 8-6 Fox River Classic Conference (FRCC) homecoming victory on Sept. 30 at City Stadium.
In a series that dates to 1905, East now leads overall, 64-50-3.
Leuthoudom, the Red Devils’ seventh quarterback to see game action this season, scored his team’s first points of the year.
Earlier in the drive, on a third-and-21 play, Leuthoudom hit wide receiver Kayden Fenlon with a 30-yard pass to the Wildcats’ 9-yard line, setting up the score.
Before the touchdown, East (1-6 overall, 1-4 FRCC) had been outscored by a 308-0 margin this season.
“It feels good,” Leuthoudom said. “Being a senior, we wanted to go out with a win against West. The team relies on me a lot, so to score our first points of the season was great.”
Leuthoudom was hurt on the last play of the game but managed to hobble to the celebration after he was checked out by the medical staff.
“It hurt more not to be able to celebrate with my teammates right after the game,” he said.
Standing 5-foot-3 and weighing only 135 pounds, Leuthoudom said he’s been pushing through the punishment.
“Lately, the last couple of games, I’ve been sore Saturday (the day after the game),” he said. “As long as we got the win, it’s all good.”
Leuthoudom hadn’t taken a snap at quarterback all season until four days before the game.
“He hasn’t played quarterback because we wanted to get him out in space (as a slot receiver),” East coach Levi Nelson said. “He also played the whole game at defensive back and special teams. We had 13 or 14 kids play in all three phases.”
After East took the lead, West (0-7, 0-5) scored with 4:21 remaining when 240-pound running back JaySean Wright took a swing pass out of the backfield from quarterback Richard Bell and rumbled 14 yards for the score.
On the 2-point conversion attempt, Wright was pushed out of the bounds at the 1-yard line by East’s Fenlon to preserve the lead.
“The last three games between the two teams have been decided by four points combined,” Nelson said. “I’m so proud of the guys for preserving through it all and getting the win. This is my third season coaching, and I’ve never gotten to experience the game against West at City Stadium. To see our fans and celebrate with them was special.”
Last fall, West won 14-13 on a blocked field goal in the final 10 seconds of the game, and in the alternate fall season played in spring 2021, East won 15-14.
West coach Drew Brusoe took some of the blame for his team’s loss.
“I told the kids, ‘If you’re going to be mad at somebody, be mad at me,’” he said. “I’ll take the heat. Sometimes I didn’t get the play called in quick enough – I have to put my players in better positions to be successful. We were also careless with the football, and in a game like this, you can’t have that. We played hard, and I couldn’t ask for a better effort.”
Brusoe said his first East-West game was fun.
“It was a little more charged than the Denmark-Luxemburg games I was a part of,” he said.
“That’s a contested rivalry, and it’s the same thing here. Credit to coach Nelson and his kids – they took care of the football.”
After the Red Devils went for it on fourth-and-2 from their own 26 early in the game, the Wildcats forced a turnover on downs.
After two plays netted West 15 yards, a sack and two short runs turned the promising drive into a missed opportunity – that was the Wildcats’ best chance to score before its fourth-quarter touchdown.
For West, Leo Bustamante recovered a fumble.
For the Red Devils, Josh Pittman recovered one and Fenlon corralled a pair.
The teams combined for a dozen penalties.