By Kelsie Hoitomt
MADISON – 36 young men stepped out onto the field Thursday morning with the same goal in mind, to bring home the Division 7 State Championship Title.
With hours and months of hard work, dedication and determination put into this season, the boys made their dream come true as the Glenwood City Hilltoppers defeated the Potosi Chieftains 46-21 at Camp Randall Stadium in Madison.
This is the first time in 15 years that the Hilltoppers have brought home the gold ball under the leadership of captains Matt Schouten, Chris Wagner, Austin Moe and Nick Mrdutt along with head coach Shane Strong who celebrates his first state championship as well.
The first half performance was average for the Toppers as they scored two touchdowns, but were still trailing going into the half-time break 12-14.
The Toppers first touchdown came on a two yard run by Adam Holmquist. The team marched down the field in 14 straight plays that knocked six minutes off the clock.
The Chieftains started their following drive on the Toppers 45 yard line due to just a five yard kick by Mrdutt that appeared to skim off the bottom of his foot.
The Chieftains carried the ball down the field, picking up one to five yard gains until they reached the two yard line where quarterback Tim Fritz held onto the ball for the touchdown.
The extra point kick was unsuccessful so with three minutes left in the first quarter the score was knotted at 6-6.
The second quarter began with the Hilltoppers on the 50 yard line with fourth down and 12 yards to go, punter Richard Ross was brought out onto the field.
Nearly eight minutes would run off the clock with the Toppers punting two more times and Potosi punting once.
The Chieftains were the first ones to reach the end zone in the second quarter after starting the possession on the 33 yard line. Fritz handed the ball off to Alex Wright who ran in the 33 yard touchdown.
The two-point conversion attempt was unsuccessful, but a personal foul for a face mask against the Hilltoppers brought the ball back out to the goal line. The penalty worked in the Chieftains favor as they scored the two-points to put the score at 14-6.
The Toppers would answer back in six plays including a 35 yard pass completion from Nick Mrdutt to Jeff Kopacz which put the ball on the Chieftains’ 16 yard line.
Isaac Tuttle picked up a gain of eight yards and then ran the ball in another eight yards for the final touchdown of the second quarter to put the score at 12-14.
In typical fashion, the Hilltoppers would come alive on their second half surge as their offense and defensive line were ignited.
The Chieftains received the ball, but were forced to punt on fourth down and six.
The Toppers took over on their own 28 and worked their way down to the Chieftains 35 yard line with the help of Tuttle and Holmquist.
Mrdutt rolled back for a pass, but with no open receivers, he saw an opening to the left side and shot down the field for the first touchdown of the second half to put the Toppers ahead 18-14.
The defensive line aka the “Hoggies” were aggressive on the attack as they held the Chieftains to four plays.
Wright’s punt was faked and he took off down the field in attempt to get a first down, but he was met by Hoggies, Kyle Peterson and Chris Wagner just short of the first down marker.
The turn over on downs would set the Hilltoppers on the Chieftains 40 yard line.
Tuttle, Holmquist and Kopacz carried the ball to the 20 yard line. With it fourth down and one yard to yard, Mrdutt handed the ball off to Tuttle who broke through the line to the right side for a 20 yard touchdown run.
The Toppers would finally score a two-point conversion with Holmquist on the ball to further push the lead to 26-14.
The Chieftains’ following possession would end after they chalked up two penalties and an incomplete pass, which again brought out Wright for the punt.
The Toppers would start their drive on their own 38. Tuttle picked up a gain of eight yards and Holmquist carried the ball for 10 yards to get the first down.
With the ball on the 46 yard line, Tuttle again blew past the Chieftains down the field and into the end zone for his third touchdown of the game.
A clearly exhausted Chieftain defense was not able to stop the two-point conversion by Holmquist. With five seconds left in the quarter, the Hilltoppers were now ahead 34-14.
The Toppers rushed for 174 yards on 18 carries in the third quarter alone compared to the Chieftains who managed eight yards on five carries and 30 yards passing.
The fourth quarter began with the Chieftains in possession of the ball on the Hilltoppers 45 yard line.
The Chieftains went to their passing game and caught the Toppers sleeping as Fritz completed three passes for 46 yards, including a nine yard completion to Mitchell Langkamp for Chieftains final touchdown of the game.
Fritz’s extra point kick was successful, which tightened the gap in scores to 34-21.
Wright’s kickoff would bounce to the Hilltoppers’ 21 yard line where the boys would again go to work.
Kopacz would pick up a gain of 11 yards on the first play of the drive followed by a 17 yard run by Holmquist to put the Toppers near Chieftain territory.
Holmquist would pick up another first down after an 11 yard carry which put the ball on the Chieftains’ 26 yard line. Along side Tuttle, the two would continue to carry the ball to the 12 yard line.
A face mask call against Potosi was just what the Toppers needed as they they gained the first down with the ball now resting on the four yard line.
Mrdutt handed the ball to Kopacz who found an opening through the line and scored his first touchdown of the game.
The two-point conversion was unsuccessful but the Hilltoppers were ahead, 40-21 with just under five minutes left in the game.
With the momentum on the Hilltopper’s side and the sea of blue and white going crazy, Holmquist would step in front of a pass thrown by Fritz for the interception which put the Toppers on the Chieftains 47 yard line.
Discipline and conditioning would continue to pay off as the Toppers surged down the field and into the end zone on four plays.
Tuttle would score the Hilltoppers final touchdown of the game on a 19 yard run down the middle of the field after spinning and stepping out of several tackles.
In their last effort, Fritz would again use his arm and complete a 39 yard pass to Langkamp to put the Chieftains on the Toppers 29 yard line.
With Schouten covering in the end zone, Fritz’s passes would fall incomplete and the Toppers would take over on the 28 yard line after a failed fourth down attempt.
Holmquist solely carried the ball for 28 yards in four plays to put the Toppers on the Chieftains 44 yard line.
With less than a minute to play, the Hilltopper’s junior varsity team took the field and let the clock tick down to zero.
The tears began to flow and cheers of “We Are GC” filled the stadium as the 2012 Glenwood City football team accepted their Division 7 State Championship trophy.
“We didn’t play our game in the first half and we came out extremely physical in the second half and I think that was the difference in the game. I think we are in good shape and we made a couple adjustments at half time. I was so proud of their effort in the second half,” shared coach Shane Strong.
The Hilltoppers controlled 31:49 minutes of the clock compared to Potosi who managed half of that with 16:11.
This allowed the Toppers to gain a total of 500 offense yards versus Potosi who had 273 yards.
The Division 7 record for total offensive yards is 501 which was earned by Gilman in 2006.
The Toppers blew Potosi out of the water in rushing yards as they set a Division 7 record with 465 compared to Potosi who had 126.
The previous Division 7 record holder was the 2004 Shell Lake team who had 449 yards.
Tuttle led the game in rushing yards with 195, even while playing with a possible broken hand that was injured a few weeks prior to the game.
Tuttle also tied for the most rushing touchdowns with four which is the most that has been scored in each division.
Holmquist played an outstanding game as well as he rushed for 149 yards on 30 carries. Nick Mrdutt had 69 yards, Kopacz had 58 yards and Nate Mrdutt had one yard.
The Glenwood City team of 1997 still holds the Division 5 record in rushing yards with 420.
Mrdutt also had one completion for 35 yards to Kopacz.
After finishing with a record of 1-8 last season, the Hilltoppers have come full circle to complete their underdog story, finishing 11-2 and becoming Division 7 State Champions.