ELK MOUND — Beginning the season against Chetek-Weyerhaeuser for the second year in a row, the Elk Mound football team had hopes of showing some improvement after losing 34-0 to the Bulldogs last year. They did manage to avoid a shutout and kept the game close for the first half but the second half running game of the Bulldogs was too much for the Mounders to contain as they lost 34-6. The Bulldogs finished as the runner up in the Heart O’North Conference last year and are picked as one of the favorites to win it this season.
There may be a more famous “Johnny Football” over in Cleveland right now but the Bulldogs showed they have their own as senior running back Jonny Chamberlain, coming off a junior season where he rushed for over 1,200 yards and 14 touchdowns, torched the Mounder defense for over 270 yards, scoring four times in the process. His first touchdown came in the first quarter on a 34 yard run around the left side with 3:01 left in the quarter and the extra point kick made it 7-0.
The Mounders made a game of it as they started at their own 37 and moved downfield on runs by quarterback Dane Lew, and running backs Noah Zurbuchen and Jon Storing. Storing picked up a first down on a third and three and Zurbuchen plowed for another on a fourth and inches to keep the drive going. Lew then found Justin Erpenbach for a five yard touchdown reception with 9:40 to go in the half. The extra point kick attempt was botched and the Mounders were down 7-6.
The Bulldogs started a drive at their own 30 yard line and with help by a 48 yard run by Chamberlain in which Lew made a touchdown saving tackle, they continued to move the ball, culminating in a two yard score on a quarterback keeper. A bad snap on the kick attempt resulted in Storing tackling the kicker, putting the score at 13-7 at the half.
You didn’t have to be a fly on the wall (or in this case in the grass) to hear what the Bulldog coach’s game plan was for the second half. “Give the ball to Jonny” was the call as Chamberlain ran left, right and up the middle as the Bulldogs went on an 11 play drive, starting at their own 28 and ending with Chamberlain scoring from two yards out. The two point conversion pass was broken up, putting C-W up 19-6. The Mounders went three and out and punted the ball away, and the Bulldogs followed with another drive and another score by Chamberlain, this time on a 40 yard scamper, making it 27-6 after the two point pass.
Tyler Sahm returned the kickoff to the Mounder 37 and Elk Mound put together a drive which included a 16 yard pass completion from Lew to Alex Hollister and a first down run by Storing on a third and five. But two penalties on the Mounders made it fourth and 31 and forced a punt, resulting in a blocked punt recovered by the Bulldogs at the Mounders four yard line. Chamberlain put the finishing touches on his night with his fourth touchdown on first down and the kick made it 34-6.
The Mounders tried to move the ball as Lew completed a long pass to Hollister on their next possession, but a fumble on the next play ended up in the hands of the Bulldogs. The defense stepped up however as Erpenbach stuffed the Bulldog ball carrier on a fourth down at the beginning of the fourth quarter and they managed to shut them down the rest of the game.
There were 24 penalties called in the game with 12 on each team, and several came at crucial times for the Mounders.
“We played one good half then made too many mistakes in the second half that hurt us,” Mounder coach Dave Lew said. “We really need to work on the mental part of our game and limit those mistakes. But many of our young players stepped up and made some nice plays.”
Zurbuchen rushed for 30 yards on 13 attempts to lead the Mounders and Lew completed 5 of 13 passes for 100 yards with one touchdown and one interception. Hollister snared three passes for 60 yards while Svee caught one for 35 yards.
Elk Mound travels to Eleva-Strum for another Thursday night game Aug. 28.