Usually, the coin toss before a football game leaves clear choices: take the ball, or defer your decision to the start of the second half.
When Greendale won the toss before its Woodland Conference game at St. Francis on Sept. 14, it deferred. That put St. Francis coach Doug Sarver in a difficult situation because of a strong wind that would be tough to navigate.
Sarver took the ball, Greendale opted to have the wind at its back in the first quarter, and the Panthers scored 21 points in the first quarter on their way to a 35-13 victory.
Greendale scored early on a 1-yard run. Mike Hennessy took advantage of the wind at his back to team with Ben Ericksen on a 41-yard touchdown pass. Brennen Bychinski returned a blocked punt 17 yards for another score.
"That was a key moment, that flip," Sarver said. "We were unlucky on that. They got the wind, and with their offense, it's pretty tough."
St. Francis (2-2 overall, 2-1 in the Woodland South) played Greendale (3-1, 3-0 Woodland South) tough the rest of the way. Two lost fumbles, a pair of interceptions and some mental mistakes helped do them in.
St. Francis junior quarterback Cory Knapp and junior flanker Tyler Bostedt hooked up on a 77-yard scoring play that was offset by a Hennessy touchdown run. A 51-yard run by junior halfback Will Frisch put the ball on the Greendale 5, but a 2-yard loss on a pass that should have gone for a score was not caught, the center-quarterback exchange was botched, and St. Francis missed a field goal.
After the St. Francis held to start the second half, sophomore running back Evan Biller scored from the 1 to make the score 28-13.
St. Francis got the ball back and moved to the Greendale 10, but fumbled the ball back to the Panthers.
In the fourth quarter, St. Francis moved to the Greendale 15, but a Knapp pass was intercepted in the end zone. Greendale scored again to clinch the victory.
"We came back and played hard and made a game out of it, even if the score doesn't show it," Sarver said.
Knapp completed nine of 18 passes for 136 yards and one touchdown.
Frisch led the ground game with 90 yards on 15 carries. Linebackers Thomas Fera and Biller had 10 and eight tackles, respectively.
WHO: St. Francis (2-2) vs. Whitnall (2-2)
WHAT: Woodland Conference football game
WHEN: 7 p.m. Saturday, Sept 21
WHERE: St. Francis High School, 4225 S. Lake Drive
PREVIEW: Whitnall opened 42-15 lead over St. Thomas More last week, then had to hold on for 42-35 victory ... Tyler Swessel ran for one touchdown, caught pass for another and returned kickoff 95 for another ... Whitnall was outgained, 351 yards to 277 ... Bennett Kaye threw for three touchdowns and ran for a fourth.
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