Bergner shines in Shawano win
Greg Bates, Leader Correspondent
Brice Bergner received the game ball Friday night. And boy, did he deserve it.
The wide receiver scored four touchdowns — three in the opening half — as the Shawano Community High School football team mounted a 16-point first-half lead and hung on to beat Oconto Falls 30-20.
The most astonishing thing about Bergner’s four-touchdown game? He only touched the ball four times.
It’s the first time in Bergner’s life he has scored four touchdowns in a game.
“That’s just something I would dream of when I was little,” said Bergner, while cradling the game ball tight in his right arm. “It just feels amazing. I can’t even describe how it feels.”
Bergner had 116 yards receiving and 25 yards rushing. Not a bad night for the senior after missing last week’s game.
“I was expecting a big week, and it happened,” Bergner said.
It was Bergner’s fourth touchdown that was the biggest of the night, giving the Hawks some breathing room. With Oconto Falls pulling to within 3 at 23-20 near the end of the third quarter, Shawano quarterback Cole Huntington pump faked to a receiver on a short route and then found Bergner wide open over the top of Oconto Falls’ secondary. Bergner hauled in the pass and raced 76 yards down the sideline to the end zone to make it 30-20.
“I think that’s what set the tempo to end the game,” Bergner said.
The touchdown was a play coach Alan Tomow had called in the first half; Bergner also scored on that play. Tomow was confident it would work the second time.
“They were within striking distance of us and we had a third-and-long,” Tomow said. “We ran a short route to the other side and we had an and-go tag on the back side and we had the fastest kid in the whole stadium in a foot race. I’ll take him over just about anybody.”
Both teams came into the game having rough seasons. Shawano and Oconto Falls combined for one win in nine games.
“Both of us had nothing to lose, especially Oconto Falls,” Bergner said. “They fought and I give them a lot of credit. They kept up with us. We were fighting and we had a little more will power than what they had.”
Shawano (2-4, 2-3 Bay Conference) scored on its first four possessions of the game to build a comfortable lead. However, Oconto Falls (0-5) didn’t go away.
Shawano’s offense had a promising start as Huntington found Bryce Richards for 45 yards down to the Oconto Falls’ 23 on the first play from scrimmage. Two plays later, Huntington — who came into the game with just one passing touchdown — ran a keeper for 23 yards down to the 3. That’s when Oconto Falls’ defense stiffened, creating a fourth-and-goal from the 11. The Hawks had to settle for a Cody Urban 28-yard field goal to make it 3-0.
After an Oconto Falls punt, Shawano was at it again. The Hawks converted a third-and-9 as Huntington connected with Adam Bartz for 12 yards. After a 16-yard run by Jared Tavernier to the Oconto Falls 19, Bergner caught a swing pass from Huntington. Bergner made a move, got a defender to fall to his feet and he darted into the end zone to make it 10-0.
On Oconto Falls’ next drive, it turned the ball over on downs and Shawano marched 60 yards, capping the drive with another Huntington-to-Bergner TD. The 21-yard score put the Hawks up 17-0 midway through the second quarter.
Oconto Falls’ Connor Sefcik took the ensuing kickoff 45 yards to Shawano’s 32. A couple of plays later, Kowalczyk rumbled in from 8 yards out to get the Panthers on the scoreboard at 17-7.
The Hawks wasted little time responding. After recovering an onside kick, Shawano used the short field to its advantage. Tavernier raced 24 yards to the Oconto Falls 25, and the next play, Bergner scored on a 25-yard run. It was quickly 23-7.
Late in the first half, Oconto Falls got a Sefcik 7-yard touchdown run to pull within 10 at 23-13.
On Shawano’s first possession of the second half, Oconto Falls created the first turnover of the game. Jacob Yatso recovered a fumble to set up the Panthers at the Shawano 43. Alex Johnson capped the drive with a 2-yard touchdown run. It was suddenly a game at 23-20 just four minutes into the second half.
Then Bergner struck for a fourth time. The Hawks maintained the double-digit lead the rest of the game.