By Tori Wittenbrock
Associate Sports Editor
DE PERE – The De Pere Redbirds (3-2 conf.) saw their third win of the 2023 season against the Preble Hornets (1-4 conf.) on Friday, Sept. 29 at home with a 35-7 final score.
“Week to week you always look for areas to improve, especially as a coach with constructive feedback, and we hope to continue to grow and learn from things that we do, positive and negative,” said De Pere Head Coach Ben Strickland. “We know how much better we can be in terms of understanding that we have the capability but we have to make sure that we have the discipline and the will to go along with it.”
After an early touchdown by De Pere was revoked for a flag just eight minutes into the game, the Redbirds seemed to be off to a rocky start.
Though Preble was able to hold De Pere to a 0-0 score at the end of the first quarter, Redbird Quarterback Easton Arendt was able to bring his team the first touchdown of the night.
Arendt handed the ball off to running back Caden Schampers for a 25-yard carry which got them a necessary first down just a minute into the second quarter. The team then worked their way from their own 46-yard line down to the end zone where a nine-yard run by Lucas Koskey brought De Pere to a 7-0 lead.
De Pere’s next drive, however, saw some difficulties offensively as Arendt’s ball to Colin Aalsma was nearly intercepted, and then his very next pass was picked-off by Preble’s Anthony Torres at the 28-yard line with two and a half minutes until the half.
The Hornets attempted to make the most out of their final drive of the half with quarterback Brady Holcomb keeping the ball for a 16-yard run down the field.
However, an interception by De Pere’s Ryan Wettstein killed their chances to even the score before the half as he ran the ball from De Pere’s own 44 to the endzone for a 14-0 lead going into halftime.
After Preble failed to convert on their first drive of the second half, they were gifted another opportunity to prove themselves offensively when a flag for roughing the kicker brought them an immediate second possession and 15 yards.
However, after again failing to convert, Mason Sequin of De Pere was forced out at the Redbird 46 on his punt return on the next drive.
Arendt and Sequin worked together on a string of ten yard receptions to get their team in scoring position, but an offensive blunder caused a Redbirds fumble on the 11-yard line to be recovered by Preble with five minutes to go in the third.
The Hornets proved their tenacity when Ja’donn Potter-Kanyata ran the ball 81 yards to put his team on the board on their next play to decrease the Redbirds’ lead to one touchdown with just 3:45 to go in the third quarter.
However, Koskey was able to switch the momentum back for his team when he ran the ball 11 yards into the end zone for a touchdown, bringing the score to 21-7 just before the start of the fourth quarter.
“I think our guys have been in situations where we have had some adversity and we always believe that we have the ability to score on offense and our defense was playing great all game. I told our guys as they came off the field that it’s just one play. We are going to continue to make stops and it’s up to the offense to respond,” said Strickland. “We want to make sure that we are teaching our kids how to play complimentary football. If our defense lets something up, it’s our offense’s turn to respond. If our defense is holding them, we’ve got to make sure we then keep our defense off the field and score some points.”
After relinquishing possession to Preble on the kick-off, Max Cavanaugh picked-off a pass from Holcomb at the Redbirds’ own 18-yard line.
Moments later De Pere’s Landon Pulvermacher clinched another six points for his team with seven minutes left on the clock. After a successful point-after kick, the score was 28-7 as the Redbirds began to pull further away from the Hornets.
De Pere again took over on downs around the 30-yard line after Preble failed to convert with Schampers working them down to first and goal with three minutes to go.
The Redbirds were able to run the ball in for the final score of the night, resulting in a 35-7 victory over the Hornets.
“We have two great opportunities ahead of us and we want to be able to play our best ball at the end of the year, so with that we are going to continue to focus on our individual and collective improvement and see how far we can take this thing,” said Strickland.
On Friday, Oct. 6, De Pere will head to Bay Port to take on the Pirates (5-0 conf.) in the penultimate game of the regular season while Green Bay Preble will host West De Pere (5-0 conf.).