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Northern Elite era ends with loss to Panthers

Niagara, Goodman-Pembine to shift to 8-player squads in 2022

Northern Elite senior defensive back Bryce Beauchamp (12) and junior Logan Weber (85) give chase to Oconto Falls running back Dylan Thomson (8) in a Northwoods Conference game on Saturday at Goodman. The contest ended the 17th and final year of the Northern Elite three-school co-op 11-player football team. (Matt McCarthy/Daily News photos)

GOODMAN, Wis. — After 17 seasons, an era is ending. The Northern Elite Predators co-op football team played its last game Saturday at Goodman Field.

The result didn’t go as hoped in a joint homecoming game for the Goodman-Armstrong Creek and Beecher-Dunbar-Pembine schools as the visiting Oconto Falls Panthers defeated the Predators 44-8 in a Northwoods Conference matchup.

The undermanned Predators played hard from snap No. 1 until the final buzzer sounded. With Niagara also part of the co-op, the game was also the final one for 11 seniors on the Predators’ roster of 17.

“This was a good group of seniors, the entire fourth quarter we played all 11 of them together,” said Predators head coach Brian Bousley. “Nobody quit in that group of 11, none of them ever gave up all season, and most of the time the numbers were against us. They worked hard and never complained.”

Oconto Falls, who improved to 6-2, came into the contest on a two-game skid, having lost to Coleman and Kewaunee. The Panthers have a very deep roster with talent at the skill positions. Running back Dylan Thomson had surpassed the 1,000-yard rushing mark for the season in the team’s previous game versus Kewaunee.

Northern Elite senior linebacker Erik Kalkofen (50) wrestles Oconto Falls running back Nicholas Allen (17) to the ground in the fourth quarter Saturday.

Thomson reached paydirt three times against Northern Elite, with the first being a 65-yard sprint down the visitors’ sideline, less than a minute into the game. Oconto Falls junior quarterback Carter Hill is a skilled passer, rated No. 2 in the Northwoods Conference.

“We game-planned to work on some things offensively, things that hadn’t been working as well as we’d have wanted in previous games,” said Panthers head coach Nicholas Bohl. “Defensively, we knew we had to take away No. 5 (Landon Kalkofen). They were going to get him the football and they did. He’s a really good player, I’d give him the ball as much as I could if he were on our team.”

The Predators had a nice drive near the end of the third stanza, moving the ball with Kalkofen running north and south. Quarterback Mason Richtig of Northern Elite threw a pass that was hauled in by senior wideout Bryce Beauchamp for a 28-yard gain.

That pass set up the Predators’ lone score on the day, a four-yard run by Kalkofen. Senior offensive lineman Evan Bruemmer was inserted at running back for the 2-point conversion and he blasted across for the score.

Predators senior Boone Larison made a great play on a Hill pass in the second quarter, hauling in an interception at the Predators 4-yard line. Larison returned the ball across midfield to the Panthers’ 48.

Northern Elite will not play next week in the final week of the regular season. Their scheduled opponent, Northland Pines, forfeited when they shut down their season a few weeks ago, which will give the Predators a forfeit win to finish the season at 1-8.

Next fall, Niagara plans to field its own 8-player team, while Goodman and Pembine, who already co-op for most sports, will join forces for their own 8-player squad.

NOTE: Goodman-Armstrong Creek homecoming king and queen, Erik Kalkofen and Emily Goode, as well as Beecher-Dunbar-Pembine homecoming king and queen Moses Wolford and Macaela Corozolla, were crowned at halftime.

Oconto Falls 22 14 8 0 — 44

N. Elite 0 0 8 0 — 8

1st Quarter

O.F – Dylan Thomson 65 yard run, (run failed), 11:11

O.F – Carter Hill pass to Isaac Raddatz, (Logan LaPlant Seymour run), 4:03

O.F – Thomson 7-yard run, (Hill to Caleb Clark), 2:15

2nd Quarter

O.F – Thomson 34 yard Run, (Logan LaPlant Seymour run), 7:08

O.F – Hill 13 yard run, (run failed), 0:20

3rd Quarter

O.F – Hill 31 yard pass to Logan LaPlant Seymour, (Alex Haines run), 6:58

N.E – Landon Kalkofen 4-yard run, (Evan Bruemmer run), 1:01

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