By RON DEUTER
NIAGARA, Wis. - Northern Elite senior quarterback Joey Swanson passed for five touchdowns, including four in the first half, as the Predators opened the 2013 high school football season with a convincing 45-30 win over Coleman Friday evening at Ropele Field.
Northern Elite Predators quarterback Joey Swanson looks for an opening against Coleman in Friday’s high school football season opener at Ropele Field. Swanson accounted for five touchdowns in the Predators’ 45-30 victory.
"I think he equaled his entire touchdown total from last season," Predators head coach Ben Laarman said of his second-year varsity starter. "His arm is stronger, and he's getting more distance and accuracy. He was really on point tonight."
Swanson, totaling 283 yards on pin-point 9-of-10 passing, found Trent Heath for catch and runs of 48, 31 and 48 yards in the first half. Patrick Moreau caught a 26-yard touchdown, and Tarzus Maurer hauled in Swanson's longest heave of the evening on a 47-yard bomb down the left sideline in the fourth quarter.
"We got some big plays in the passing game," Laarman said. "Swanson made a lot of plays, and our receivers came through and made the catches."
In between the aerial display, Swanson continuously pounded Coleman's defense on the ground, racking up a game-high 172 yards on 34 carries with one three-yard score.
Northern Elite never trailed in the game, scoring on the game's first drive and then adding another first-quarter tally after recovering a fumble at the Coleman 25.
Coleman got on the board early in the second, Trevor Seewald marching the Cougars on a 10-play, 70-yard drive capped by a three-yard plunge into the endzone.
Seewald was closing in on a 100 yards before the break, but injured his ankle on a defensive play late in the half and was noticeably gimpy when he did return to action in the third quarter.
Coleman's second fumble of the game, with under three minutes to play before halftime, allowed Northern Elite to tack on its fifth score of the half and take a 35-14 lead into intermission.
Brandon Pagel busted through for a 67-yard touchdown scamper on the first play from scrimmage in the third quarter to bring Coleman back within two scores, but the Cougars would get no closer.
"When they busted the first play of the half, I thought it might be a long second half," Laarman said. "But we bounced bask from that really well. I was proud that we responded so well."
Northern Elite's defense kept the visitors off the board the rest of the way, surrendering only a late score at 1:44 for the game's final margin.
Moreau ended a third-quarter drive by picking off Seewald. That led to Northern Elite's third score following a turnover when Adam Parent connected on a 22-yard field goal.
"I'm really proud of the way we battled," Laarman said. "Coleman is a tough physical team. It was pretty hot night. We were really hurting that second half, but we battled and played hard."
Defense leaders for Northern Elite included Swanson with 17 tackles, Heath with seven tackles and a forced fumble, Jake Pedrotti with 10 tackles and Wyatt Aderman and Moreau with nine tackles each.
Coleman 0 14 8 8 - 30
Northern Elite 14 21 0 10 - 45
NEP - Trent Heath 48 pass from Joey Swanson (Adam Parent kick), 8:47.
NEP - Patrick Moreau 26 pass from Swanson (Parent kick), 3:42.
C - Trevor Seewald 3 run (Austin Malecki pass from Blake Margis), 11:51.
NEP - Heath 31 pass from Swanson (Parent kick), 11:26.
C - Dexter Karban 30 run (run failed), 4:53.
NEP - Heath 48 pass from Swanson (Parent kick), 2:41.
NEP - Swanson 3 run (Parent kick), 0:23.
C - Brandon Pagel 67 run (Pagel run), 11:41.
NEP - Parent 22 field goal, 10:46.
NEP - Tarzus Maurer 47 pass from Swanson (Parent kick), 7:40.
C - Margis 12 run (CJ Pillath pass from Margis), 1:44.
Total yards - Coleman 302 (302 rush, 0 pass); Northern Elite 453 (170 rush, 283 pass).
Rushing leaders - C: Pagel 10-90, Seewald 13-86; NEP: Swanson 34-172, Jake Pedrotti 2-53.
Receiving leaders - NEP: Heath 4-139, Jake Pedrotti 2-56, Maurer 1-47, Moreau 1-26.
Passing - C: Margis 0-4-0-0-0, Seewald 0-1-0-0-1; NEP: Swanson 9-10-283-5-0.
Interceptions - NEP: Moreau.
Sacks - NEP: Wyatt Anderson, Jevan Lucena, Nate Moll.
Penalties - C: 3-15; NEP: 4-30.
First downs - C: 14: NEP: 8