’Cats conquer Rebels
FLORENCE — Florence’s defense had three interceptions and recorded a second half shutout and quarterback Will Kelley ran for a school record 209 yards as the Bobcats downed the Laona-Wabeno Rebels for a 36-18 in the 8-player football matchup at Robert Landry Field in Florence on Friday night.
The Bobcats (3-1) gave up three turnovers of their own on fumbles, including a fumble return for a Rebels’ touchdown in the last two minutes of the rain-soaked contest, but dominated time of possession and led from start to finish in their conference home opener.
“It rained most of the game and that was to our advantage,” said Florence Coach Kent Walstrom, noting L-W’s potent passing attack. “We played good defense across the board — good pass defense, really were able to collapse the pocket on their QB, and we dominated them with our run game. It felt to me like we were the better team in all four quarters of the game.”
Florence scored on a Kelley 22-yard touchdown run on the opening drive, but L-W answered quickly with Rebels’ QB Carter Janesch hitting receiver Adam Seeber on a long bomb TD reception.
Running back Logan Schuls capped another Bobcats drive with a one-yard touchdown run for a 14-6 Florence lead in the second quarter.
“They (L-W) scored their second touchdown on a broken play, a pass play where our defender slipped and their receiver was running wide open,” said Walstrom. “We had a 14-12 lead at the half and felt like it should have been more. L-W didn’t have a lot of positive plays to show for the points they had, but we stayed true to our plan and won the second half decisively.”
Florence’s Evan Johnson ran 10 yards for a score and a 20-12 lead and Kelley led another drive for points with an eight-yard TD run to extend the lead to 28-12 early in the fourth quarter.
Seeber scored L-W’s last touchdown on defense, scooping up a loose fumble late in the contest and running untouched for a TD to pull within 28-18 before Florence put the game away on Kelley’s third touchdown run, this one from 53 yards out with under two minutes left.
“Heck of a game by Kelley,” Walstrom added. “Twenty-nine carries. He can run, he throws and catches really well, just a very versatile player. Our game plan going in was to give Will a lot of carries and use our other backs a little more as blocking backs tonight, and he came up big.”
Kelley completed four passes for 29 yards. Johnson finished with three catches for 19 yards and 29 rushing yards on five carries. Logan Schuls had one catch for 10 yards and eight carries for 25 yards.
Bryce Leffler and Will Sipple led Florence’s defense with eight tackles each and constant pressure on passing downs.
“I’ll have to watch the tape to count the sacks, but both guys were really disruptive up front,” Walstrom said. “We didn’t have Bryce for the Newman-Catholic game, so getting him back for this one was huge.
“We haven’t played every conference opponent, but I don’t know of two better defensive players in our league than Bryce and (L-W’s Hunter) Cronauer, and Cronauer was all-state last year, defensive player of the year in our conference. They’re both outstanding players.”
Joey Holmstrom added seven tackles and Florence’s ball-hawking trio of Johnson, Kelley and Schuls each recorded interceptions to kill Rebel drives.
The Bobcats host Niagara Friday for Parents’ Night. Game time is set for 7 p.m. at Robert Landry Field.