LINCOLN — In their second season as a sports co-op, the Elgin Public-Pope John Wolfpack claimed their first state title Monday morning with a 44 to 14 victory over Guardian Angels CC.
The Wolfpack rolled up 409 yards of total offense to claim the state championship trophy and a slew of gold medals for team members, capping a perfect 13-0 season.
“It’s great for our kids and our whole town. I’m just proud of our kids and how they come together and work hard,” Coach Carlie Wells said about the victory. “The hard work paid off.”
Junior quarterback Ross Schindler tossed two touchdown passes and ran for another to help lead the Wolfpack to the victory. Equally impressive was the running of I-back Nash Schindler. In his final game for the Wolfpack, Schindler gained 162 yards on 24 carries. Ross Schindler had 108 yards on 18 carries.
The Wolfpack never trailed in this championship game. They got on the board midway through the first quarter. After the Bluejays tried and failed a fake punt attempt, the Wolfpack took over on the GACC 33-yard line. It took only one play to put the ball into the endzone. Nash Schindler went over left tackle with the handoff on a counter play and scampered 33 yards for the game’s first score.
The Bluejays failed on fourth down again just minutes later when Jared Seier and Drew Schindler stuffed Nathaniel Hass for no gain. The Wolfpack’s ensuing drive ended on the GACC’s 14-yard line when Nash Schindler fumbled and Bluejay Zach Wietfeld recovered.
Wolfpack linebacker Kyle Heithoff, playing in place of Ryan Meis who was on street clothes on the sideline, made a memory he won’t soon forget. The Bluejays had put together a 13-play, 61-yard drive and had a first and goal on the Wolfpack five-yard line. Bluejay quarterback Eric Wietfeld fumbled the ball and Heithoff recovered to end the scoring threat.
The Wolfpack then gave the Bluejays a taste of things to come as they went 73 yards in seven plays. The drive featured two bigs runs from Nash Schindler (13, 18 yards), and a 20-yard completion to Andrew Heithoff which put the ball on the five-yard line. On the next play, fullback Blake Anderson capped the drive with a run up the middle. Ross Schindler added his second two-point conversion for a 16 to 0 lead with 9:25 to go before halftime.
The teams then traded punts. Just before halftime the Wolfpack put together their third scoring drive of the half. Ross Schindler started the drive with a completion to Grant Beckman. After several runs into the line, Schindler connected with Nash Schindler down to the 32-yard line. Then, with 19 ticks left on the clock before halftime, Ross and Nash connected again, this time for 32 yards for a touchdown and a 22 to 0 lead.
Each team scored twice in the third quarter. The Wolfpack boosted their lead to 30 to 0 when Ross Schindler broke free and raced 28 yards to the endzone.
The Bluejays answered back just over a minute later when Eric Wietfeld connected with Zach Wietfeld on a 49-yard touchdown pass.
If there was a time for momentum to switch, this was it. But, the Wolfpack would have none of that on this day. They got the ball back and went 58 yards in eight plays to score when Ross Schindler connected with Andrew Heithoff on a 29-yard touchdown pass. The score made it 36 to 8 with 4:34 left in the quarter.
Once again, the Bluejays would answer. Hass, making up for a fumble earlier in the game, scored on a six-yard run.
With a 24-point lead and 12 minutes left to play, the Wolfpack put together one last scoring drive.
Determined to eat as much time off the clock as possible, the Wolfpack drove 58 yards in 10 plays for the game’s final score. Capping the drive was Anderson with a two-yard touchdown, his second of the game.
Forced to go to the air, the Bluejays had no success as defensive linemen Caleb Pelster, Drew Schindler and Jared Seier repeatedly put pressure on their quarterback. Twice in the fourth quarter the Bluejays went three-and-out.
The Wolfpack closed out the game the way championship teams do, by running out the clock. In the game’s final 12 minutes, the Wolfpack had the ball for all but 1:52.
“The kids made the plays, that’s what it comes down to,” Coach Carlie Wells said about the victory.”
In the game’s final moments, with the game in hand, Coach Wells cleared the bench, giving each player a taste of victory at Memorial Stadium.
The Wolfpack defense limited GACC to just 11 first downs. The Bluejays gained just 79 yards on the ground and 139 through the air.
“Our defense is fast, I’ve said that all year. We’ve got great team speed to the ball. Our kids do a great job with technique, we don’t get out of position a lot.”
For the Wolfpack, they rushed the ball 55 times for 312 yards. Through the air they completed six of eight passes for 97 yards.
Wolfpack 44, Bluejays 14
Wolfpack………8 14 14 8 — 44
Bluejays………..0 0 14 0 — 14
EPPJ — Nash Schindler 33 run (Ross Schindler run)
EPPJ — Blake Anderson 5 run (Ross Schindler run)
EPPJ — Nash Schindler 32 pass from Ross Schindler (PAT failed)
EPPJ — Ross Schindler 28 run (Nash Schindler run)
GACC — Zach Wietfeld 49 pass from Eric Wietfeld (Nate Hass run)
EPPJ — Andrew Heithoff 29 pass from Ross Schindler (PAT failed)
GACC — Nate Hass 6 run (PAT failed)
EPPJ — Blake Anderson 2 run (Ross Schindler run)
Team Stats GACC EPPJ
Rushing 34/79 55/312
Passing 10/23/0 6/8/0
Passing Yds 139 97
Total Off 218 409
First Downs 11 22
Penalties 4/52 7/46
Fumbles Lost 1 1
Poss. Time 21:29 26:31
Rushing — Nash Schindler 24/162, Ross Schindler 18/108, Blake Anderson 10/33, Levi Kerkman 1/7, Shane Beckman 1/2, Alex Pelster 1/0. GACC — Nate Hass 18/54, Zach Wietfeld 12/40, Eric Wietfeld 4/-15.
Passing — Ross Schindler 6/8/0 — 97. GACC — Eric Wietfeld 10/21/0 — 139, Zach Wietfeld 0/1/0 — 0, Jon Guenther 0/1/0 — 0.
Receiving — Andrew Heithoff 3/50, Nash Schindler 2/39, Grant Beckman 1/8. GACC — Zach Wietfeld 5/99, Nate Hass 3/8, Jon Guenther 1/26, Blake Hass 1/6.
Tackles — Andrew Heithoff 8.5, Kyle Heithoff 7.5, Nash Schindler 5.5, Jared Seier 5, Caleb Pelster 4, Grant Beckman 3, Drew Schindler 3, Evan Parks 2, Tre Henkenius 1, Lee Bartak 0.5, Nick Heithoff 0.5, Shane Beckman 0.5. GACC — Jon Guenther 11.5, Blake Hass 8.
Sacks — Kyle Heithoff 1, Caleb Pelster 1. GACC — Zach Wietfeld 1.
Passes broken up — Grant Beckman 2.