Wausaukee ends Cats’ winless season

Team hopeful for next season with older players
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Leader Photo by Jacy Zollar Bowler/Gresham senior Nathan Montez runs the ball during Friday’s 54-12 loss to Wausaukee.

Leader Photo by Jacy Zollar Bowler/Gresham junior Noah Bestul gets tackled during the Cats’ 54-12 loss to Wausaukee on Friday.

Bowler/Gresham was held to just four first downs against Wausaukee on Friday, leading to a 54-12 loss in the Cats’ final MONLPC game of the season at Bowler.

Two fumbles in the first three drives set the Cats (0-8) up to a slow start. Wausaukee turned both turnovers into touchdowns.

Bowler/Gresham gave up significant yardage on three other drives in the half due to penalties, two of which led to Ranger touchdowns.

“We definitely made some simple errors, but that’s normal when you have a young team like us,” Bowler/Gresham head coach Eric Peebles said. “But I thought we overall played pretty well tonight for our last game. I was very proud of everybody. They worked hard out there.”

The Cats found energy in the second half and put points on the board in back-to-back drives.

The Rangers started the second half with a 22-yard touchdown run by Hayden Renikow to go up 46-0, but the Cats answered with their first touchdown of the game.

Lane Schultz opened the Cats’ first drive of the half with a 15-yard run to the Rangers’ 28-yard line. A face mask penalty moved the ball inside the red zone, and a 13-yard run by Logan Thiex secured the touchdown.

Wausaukee (6-3) scored on the subsequent drive after Tyler Morris recovered the Rangers’ fumble in their end zone.

Bowler/Gresham added another touchdown 15 seconds later on an 85-yard kick return by Ezra Spencer.

“We always tend to come out with way more energy in the second half,” Peebles said. “The first half we come out flat, and it just takes us a little while to get things going out there.”

Nathan Montez completed 2 of 6 passes for eight yards and rushed for 39 yards for Bowler/Gresham. Spencer rushed for 93 yards and one touchdown and had one reception for five yards. Logan Thiex rushed for 15 yards and one touchdown.

The Cats tallied 101 rushing yards to the Rangers’ 347.

Renikow led the Rangers with 119 yards rushing and two touchdowns, followed by Matt Delfosse with 74 yards and two touchdowns.

“Their kids played hard,” Wausaukee head coach Grant Russ said. “I know they’re short-staffed, but they definitely played hard. They came out in the second half and made some big plays.”

The Cats have started mainly underclassmen this season. The Rangers, on the other hand, have a full roster with older players.

“The numbers game is really what it comes down to,” Russ said. “We have good senior leadership and more upperclassmen and more numbers, so that really is what the big difference is on the field.”

Peebles is hopeful that his young team’s experience will pay off next year.

“We’ll lose two really great seniors, but we’ll get back a lot of young kids that got a lot of experience this year to play, and I’m optimistic that we’ll just be able to solidify our team with that,” he said. “Next year we won’t be quite so young, and I think that’ll help us improve a lot.”

The Cats couldn’t find a win this season, but Peebles is proud of his team’s work ethic.

“They work hard, they don’t quit, and I can’t ask too much more of them than that,” he said.

Wausaukee 54, Bowler/Gresham 12

Team 1 2 3 4 F

Wausaukee 26 14 6 8 54

Bowler/Gresham 0 0 6 6 12

First quarter

W: Brandon Shigouri 19-yard reception from Hayden Renikow (conversion good) 8-0 (11:09).

W: Matthew Delfosse 5-yard run (conversion missed) 14-0 (9:29).

W: Kyle Struve 12-yard run (conversion missed) 20-0 (6:35).

W: Delfosse 2-yard run (conversion missed) 26-0 (2:58).

Second quarter

W: Renikow 10-yard run (conversion good) 34-0 (8:31).

W: Aidan Shaw 15-yard reception from Renikow (conversion missed) 40-0 (0:01).

Third quarter

W: Renikow 22-yard run (conversion missed) 46-0 (9:21).

BG: Logan Thiex 13-yard run (conversion missed) 46-6 (5:27).

Fourth quarter

W: Tyler Morris fumble recovery in end zone (conversion good) 54-6 (10:20)

BG: Ezra Spencer 85-yard run (conversion missed) 54-12 (10:05).