Until further notice, you can give St. Francis the award for comeback of the year, if not the century - yeah, it's early in the 21st century, but it was a huge comeback.
New Berlin West had its figurative foot on the throat of the visiting Mariners, leading the Aug. 31 Woodland Conference game at halftime, 28-0. Considering the Mariners had lost their opener, 20-0, the outlook did not look too hot.
The Mariners, led by junior quarterback Cory Knapp and a recharged defense, came back for a thrilling 35-34 overtime victory.
"I don't think there will be one better than that," St. Francis coach Doug Sarver said.
How could there be? Even the ending would have had you wondering if you believed what you just saw.
Knapp's 5-yard touchdown pass to junior wide receiver Tyler Bostedt and the extra point by Chris Hemmer - remember that name - tied the score at 28-28 with 2 minutes, 10 seconds to play.
New Berlin West scored on the first play of overtime, but the extra-point kick sailed wide right.
The Mariners tied it on their first play of overtime when Knapp hit senior fullback Mario Scianni with a 10-yard touchdown pass. On the extra-point try, Knapp scooped up a snap that bounced and got the ball on the tee. Hemmer's kick glanced off the left upright and went through.
"The kids on the sideline were all on their knees on the extra point," Sarver said. "After the ball ricocheted off the upright and went through, they all exploded out to their teammates."
Sarver's halftime speech was not original.
"Win the second half," he said. "That's all I can say at that point."
It certainly was effective.
Sophomore fullback Evan Biller scored on an 8-yard run on the Mariners' first possession of the second half and later in the third quarter on a 1-yard run as St. Francis cut the deficit to 28-13. Knapp's 10-yard scoring pass to Bostedt and a two-point conversion run by Knapp brought the Mariners within 28-21.
Knapp had plenty of help, but his contributions - 19-for-30 for 247 yards and three touchdowns - stood out a week after a rough opener.
"The kid had such a great second half," Sarver said. "It shows the kind of character he has. He stepped up in a tough situation and helped the team to victory in the second half. Things weren't going well in the first half.
"We talked about it. He had some trouble with the exchanges last week, and he was down about that. This week, he fought through that adversity, never got down, and came back to help us win."
Sarver said the opening drive of the second have served as a springboard.
"That seemed to put a little bit of a fire into our kids," Sarver said. "Our defense rose to the occasion the second half and tightened things up. We were able to keep field position, and we didn't make as many mistakes. We started to execute our offense and got in the end zone four times."
And kept New Berlin West put of it, until overtime.
"They did to us what we did to them in the first half," New Berlin West coach Jeff Grabo said. "St. Francis came out with emotion. We thought we had it licked, but they came back. We couldn't get it (our edge) back."
Jerry Karpowicz can be reached at (262) 446-6628 or email@example.com.
WHO: St. Francis (1-1) vs. Wauwatosa West (1-1)
WHAT: Woodland Conference football game
WHEN:: 7 p.m. Friday, Sept. 7
WHERE: Wauwatosa West High School, 11400 West Center St.
PREVIEW: St. Francis is playing third consecutive road game - its opener was moved to Whitefish Bay because of unplayable field conditions … Mariners will finally play at home Friday, Sept. 14, against Greendale … Tosa West edged Milwaukee Hamilton in opener, 28-26, on 33-yard field goal by sophomore Mark Wesson … Trojans lost Woodland debut to Greendale, 35-7, Aug. 31.
St. Francis 35,
New Berlin West 34 (OT)
|St. Francis||NB West|
|New Berlin West||14||14||0||0||6||-||34|
West - Mark Treptow, 19, pass from Tony Smith (Paul Marx, kick).
West - Treptow, 7, pass from Smith (Marx, kick).
West - Kyle Kalkopf, 24, pass from Smith (Marx, kick).
West - Treptow, 10, pass from Smith (Marx, kick).
St. Francis - Evan Biller, 8, run (Chris Hemmer, kick).
St. Francis - Biller, 1, run (kick failed).
St. Francis - Tyler Bostedt, 10, pass from Cory Knapp (Knapp, run).
St. Francis - Bostedt, 5, pass from Knapp (Hemmer, kick).
West - Treptow, 10 run (kick failed).
St. Francis - Mario Scianni, 10, pass from Knapp (Hemmer, kick).
Individual Stat Leaders
Rushing - St. Francis, Biller 6-42, Thomas 14-30, Justin Ferry 8-28; West, Rick Reusch 19-155.
Passing - St. Francis, Knapp 19-30-2-247; West, Smith 11-20-121-0.
Receiving - St. Francis, Scianni 6-87, Bostedt 6-86, Joey Edwards 3-41, Jordan Hrncar 3-41; West, Kalkopf 4-45.
Interception- West, D.J. Porter
Tackles - St. Francis, Jordan Hrncar 8, Bostedt 8, Thomas Fera 7, Scianni 7, Jami Chilsen 6; West, Andy Wargin 7.5.
Tackles for loss - Chilsen, Scianni, Justin Hiltunen, Edwards.
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- South Shore police report: March 24, 2016 issue