Coleman zaps Preds

GOODMAN, WIS — Coleman had the upper hand on Northern Elite Saturday during a snowy, cold and blustery homecoming contest, taking a 56-0 Marinette-Oconto-Northern Lakes-Packerland Conference decision.

The annual celebration held at the Goodman Football Field was bittersweet for the Predators, who will miss the playoffs for the first time since the Northern Elite co-op was formed in 2005.

“The kids played hard and didn’t quit,” Predators head coach Ben Laarman said. “We came in shorthanded to begin with, then had a couple injuries throughout the game. I don’t think the outcome would’ve changed in better circumstances, but I’d like to think we’d have been more competitive than we were today. That’s a good team we played, I think they’ll have a long run in the playoffs. We were simply overmatched.”

Coleman did have two miscues in their punt return formation, with two lost fumbles. Those were recovered by the Predators’ Austin Plonke and Boone Larison. Despite N. Elite recovering both Cougar fumbles deep inside the 30-yard line, the Cougars’ stout defense kept their opponent off the scoreboard.

Already leading 6-0, Coleman, in one of their defensive stops after a lost fumble, blocked a Northern Elite field goal attempt. Two plays later, running back Tyler Blanchard broke free for a 60-yard touchdown run. It was Blanchard’s second TD of the quarter, after he reached paydirt from 18 yards out, less than three minutes into the contest.

The snow flurries began to fall as the second quarter began and continued throughout most of the remainder of the game. With the score 14-0, Coleman’s Owen Kinziger scored on a 48-yard run.

Placekicker Jayden Scott added the PAT to extend the Cougars’ lead to 21-0. After Northern Elite fumbled the ensuing kickoff, Zack Cops of Coleman recovered it deep in Predators’ territory.

After a 28-yard touchdown run by Cayden Bintz and another successful Scott PAT, the Cougars led 28-0, less than a minute after their last score. With a little over a minute left before halftime, Kinziger added his second touchdown of the half, a seven-yard run to make the score 34-0 at the break.

Sam Kuchta extended Coleman’s lead to 40-0 on a 59-yard touchdown run in the second half. With a running clock in effect, Coleman’s Noah Nosgovitz added an 11-yard touchdown run and Peter Kuchta ran in a successful two-point conversion to put the Cougars ahead 48-0.

With less than a minute left in the game, Peter Kuchta stripped the ball from a Predators runner and returned it 55 yards for a touchdown. Tyler Olson added the two-point conversion on a run on the last play of the game.

The Predators (1-6, 0-4) end their season Friday night at Crandon.