The Tomahawk varsity football squad has been re-writing school record books since the third week of their regular season, when they posted their first 3-0 start in nine years.
Despite falling to the Marawood Conference’s ‘Big Three’ (Stratford, Edgar and Marathon), the Hatchets rebounded to win the final three game of the regular season by a decisive margin (150-35) to finish 4-3 in the Marawood and 7-3 overall.
In turn, the guys added another landmark to the books in qualifying for the WIAA Post-Season Tournament for the first time in eight years.
The night of reckoning came on Friday when the 6th-seeded Hatchets hit the road to square off with #3-seed Black River Falls.
Following a scoreless first quarter, Tomahawk got the ball rolling in the second when quarterback Kaleb Kaminski took off on an 18-yard scoring run. Kole Woodall’s extra-point set the Hatchets up 7-0 headed into the half.
The third quarter would prove to be the money-maker for the guys as Easton Phalin picked off a Tiger pass and took it the house for a pick-six. Despite a failed extra-point attempt, the Hatchets came back on another scoring drive capped off by a 27-yard aerial delivery from Kaminski to receiver Brandon Vecchio.
A blocked extra-point would prove to be the last stand for Black River Falls, as Tomahawk would hang tough to secure the 19-0 shutout and their first playoff win since 2007, when the Hatchets knocked off Durand 14-7.
Icing the victory cake for the Hatchets Friday night was a total yardage package of 250 yards, compared to the Tigers’ 198.
“The Hatchets picked a great night to turn in one of their best overall performances of the season,” comments Hatchet head coach John Larson. “It is playoff football! If we want to continue playing, these are the type of performances we will need to consistently put together. Going into the game we needed to win the battle at the line of scrimmage, on both sides of the ball.
“Our offensive and defensive lines came ready to play. If you know anything about football, the success of the team starts up front. We did a great job of controlling the line of scrimmage. On offense, Dane Borchardt and Kaleb Kaminski led the charge. They combined for 190 of the 195 total yards we had on the ground.
“We still need to clean things up, a fumble on the one-yard line cost us an early score. Penalties on another trip to the red zone in the second half stalled another potential score.
“Defensively the Hatchets played very physical. The defensive highlight came when Easton Phalin returned an interception 87 yards for a touchdown. The play gave us a two-score lead and really elevated our momentum at the time. Defensively, we have to have 11 players playing their responsibility, reading their keys and not trying to do too much. We did a great job of executing our game plan and as a result shut out a very good offensive opponent.
“A great team win!”
The Hatchets will continue their post-season voyage on Friday, when they head west to face the St. Croix-Central Panthers.
THK: 0 7 12 0- 19
BRF: 0 0 0 0- 0
Passing: Kaminski (3/4, 55 yds, TD). Rushing: Borchardt (31/132); Kaminski (17/58); Easton Phalin (2/5).Receiving: Brandon Vecchio (1/27); Brian Vecchio (1/28); Borchardt (1/0).