COLFAX — These Bulldogs are scrappers, a true credit to their namesake.
Despite making just one brief foray into the opposition’s territory during the first half of play in Colfax last Friday, Boyceville found itself locked in a scoreless tie at halftime thanks to a stalwart defense that bent but refused to yield a single point.
Boyceville finally discovered its offense when the second half got underway. The Bulldogs, who were thoroughly beaten in most of the statistical categories, came out on top in the only numbers that truly count – the scoreboard. Boyceville scored touchdowns on its first two possessions of the third quarter and then held off the homestanding Vikings of Colfax for a well earned 14-0 shut out victory in the regular season football finale October 17.
“Our Defensive coaches put together a great scheme for the Colfax game using multiple players trying to keep guys fresh,” Boyceville head coach Brian Roemhild said.
“We knew going into the game that this was going to be another challenge for us and the kids stepped it up.”
“Our defense was on the field a lot and I am very proud of them for stepping up to the moment,” continued Roemhild. “We talked about making big plays when the situation called for it, and we had some kids that made huge plays throughout the game. Our goal was to shut Colfax out, and the kids accomplished their goal.”
Once-beaten Colfax had entered the game with a chance to earn a share of the Dunn-St. Croix championship with a win and a St. Croix Central loss. Instead, Colfax was unable to put the ball in the end zone once despite five trips past Boyceville’s 30 yard line, two of which ended inside the ten and finished in a three-way tie for second with the Bulldogs and Spring Valley each with conference marks of 4-2.
St. Croix Central, 8-0, captured the crown with a 51-32 win over Elk Mound to finish the regular and conference season without a loss.
The victory proved to be important for Boyceville as it earned the Bulldogs a home game for the first round of the WIAA football playoffs that will get underway this Friday, October 24.
The Bulldogs, seeded fourth in its sectional, will host Marawood Conference member Marathon, the fifth seed, in a Division 6, level one contest slated for 7 pm Friday at Evenson Field. With a first-round win, Boyceville would likely face top seeded and unbeaten Athens in level 2.
Colfax ended up in the Division 5 field and will also host a game this Friday when they play Chequamegon.
Boyceville got off to a somewhat inauspicious start against the Colfax.
The Vikings received the game’s opening kick and parlayed it into a first down. But the Bulldogs’ defense, which came up big all night long, forced a short punt.
Boyceville took possession for the first time at its own 37. A 10-yard run by Logan McAbee-Thomas moved Boyceville near midfield but quarterback Hunter Anderson fumbled during a keeper and the Vikings’ Jon Hayton recovered at the Colfax 49.
The Vikings hoped to parlay the turnover into points.
Colfax quarterback Jarrod Rudi threw for eight yards to Jacob Steinke on a second down play following an opening run of four yards by 1,000-yard rusher Jeremiah Wait. The Vikings would run four straight times with Wait carrying three times for seven yards and Andrew Adix had a five yard run.
Following a defensive offside on the Bulldogs, Wait ran for nine more yards to the Boyceville 12. Adix gained four on a first-down run but drive stalled and ended at the Boyceville seven as a pair of Rudi passes fell incomplete and Wait gained just one yard on a third-down rush.
The Bulldogs were able to put some distance between themselves and their goal line with a trio of first downs that the consumed the remainder of the first quarter and a few minutes of the second.
McAbee-Thomas ran five times during the drive picking up 27 yards while Anderson called his own number three times for 15 yards as Boyceville moved past the midfield stripe for the only time in the first half.
The drive, however, stalled when Colfax’s Ben Kragness caught Tyler Draeger behind the line for a three-yard loss on a third and three play.
Wait and Rudi would run the Vikings into Bulldog territory following the Boyceville punt.
Wait’s 21-yard jaunt moved the Vikings into Bulldogs territory at the 46. Rudi gained yet another first down with an 11-yard run followed by a pair of four-yard hauls by Wait. The latter run, however, proved costly for Wait and the Vikings, when the senior running back was injured with 4:34 to play in the first half. He did not return.
Faced with a fourth and two from the Bulldogs 25, Rudi kept the ball but was hit hard by the Bulldogs’ Alex Lovett for a four yard loss and turned the ball over on downs.
An incompletion, a run for no gain and an offside call would force the Bulldogs into a quick punt.
Colfax would take the football and move to the Boyceville 39 on a 14 yard pass from Rudi to Sawyer DeMoe.
But blocking below the waist and illegal motion penalties stymied the Vikings’ drive and forced them to punt.
Anderson took a knee for the Bulldogs to end the half.
Boyceville’s offensive woes seemed to dissipate during the halftime break because when play resumed the Bulldogs were hitting on all cylinders.
Taking the second-half kickoff, Boyceville took just three plays and 1:22 to cover the 63-yard distance for their and the game’s first score.
Senior running back Logan McAbee-Thomas opened the drive with back-to-back runs for six and 11 yards.
On the very next play, Hunter Anderson spotted a wide open Mitch Leach and threw him the ball. Leach, who had put a good 20-yard cushion between himself and the nearest Vikings’ defender, cradled the catch and ran untouched to complete the 46-yard scoring strike at 10:38 of the third quarter. Jake Lake missed the kick but Boyceville held a 6-0 lead.
Colfax would gift-wrap another scoring opportunity when Vikings tried to convert a fourth and one from its own 40. The Boyceville defense stuffed the run by Andrew Adix and took over on downs.
A holding call on second-down pushed the Bulldogs back to the 48 but Tyler Draeger hauled in an Anderson pass for 23 yards and a first down at the Viking 25. Two plays later, McAbee-Thomas ran for 16 yards to the Vikings’ one. Hunter Anderson finished the drive on the ensuing play with a one-yard plunge at 7:14. Anderson then tossed the conversion pass to Jacob McIntyre for a 14-0 advantage.
Without Wait, Colfax turned to the arm of Jarrod Rudi and the legs of Aliymu Davis to move its offense.
The Vikings marched down to the Bulldogs’ 20 yard line on the ensuing drive. But a Davis run on a fourth and six was stopped a yard short putting Boyceville back on the offensive.
After initially gaining some positive yardage and a first down, the Bulldogs began to go backwards as a run for a loss, an offside call, and a sack forced Boyceville to open the fourth quarter with a punt.
Colfax would again take the ball and move down field eventually penetrating the Boyceville 10 yard line. But the Boyceville defense, as it had all evening rose to the occasion. Hunter Anderson stepped in front of Jacob Steinke on a fourth and five pass in the end zone and intercepted the pass.
Instead of taking a knee for the touch back, Anderson emerged from end zone and like Harry Houdini, disappear into a scrum of Viking and Bulldog players only to reappear on the other side with a wide open field in front of him.
Anderson appeared on his way to a 100-yard plus interception return but was eventually pushed out by the speedy Aliymu Davis at the Colfax 20 with 6:55 to play.
Boyceville was unable to take advantage of the opportunity to add more points and had to punt.
Colfax had once final chance to put the ball in the end zone but after taking the ball from its own 20 to the Boyceville 17, a 10-yard loss by Davis and an incomplete pass on third and fourth downs respectively ended the drive and the contest.
“We talked after losing to Spring Valley that we needed to win the last three games of the seasons to be able to get any momentum heading into the playoff,” said Roemhild. “We also discussed playing with more emotion on the field and it all started with the Glenwood City game and has carried over since then.
“In the first half we only ran 13 plays due to a turnover and a couple of penalties so it was hard to get a read on what we could do offensively. The second half we were able to carry out some of the game plan that we had set-up during the week with a few adjustments at halftime. I am very proud of the boys for rising to the occasion.”
Boyceville finished with just 149 total yards, far fewer than the 283 that Colfax posted. The Vikings had a decided rushing edge – 207 to 77. Passing yardage was nearly dead even with 77 for the Bulldogs and 76 for the Vikings. Hunter Anderson hit on four of five passes. Logan McAbee-Thomas finished with 88 yards rushing for the Bulldogs.
Jeremiah Wait led the Vikings with 71 yards despite missing the entire second half.
Marathon, the Bulldogs level one opponent, finished 4-3 in the always tough Marawood Conference which features unbeaten Edgar.
The Red Raiders are a physical squad with a pair of very good running backs according to Roemhild.
“They have one of the better defenses in the area,” Roemhild stated. “They play in a tough conference with their losses coming to Edgar, Stratford, Auburndale, and a non-conference loss to Regis. We will have to match their intensity and play fundamental football to be successful.”