By Cara L. Dempski
ELK MOUND — At the end of Elk Mound’s WIAA Division 5, level-one football playoff game last Friday at home, head coach Dave Lew peeled off his visor, shook his head and paused a moment.
“I’m gonna tell you guys, that is the best 5-4 team in the state of Wisconsin right there,” he said of the Mondovi Buffaloes. “Think about their losses: they lost to Elk Mound in conference, they lost to Spring Valley, Durand, and they lost to Edgar. Four of the best teams in this area right now.”
The comments came after a long, hard grind against the seventh-seeded Mondovi squad that could have ended in disaster.
The October 21 game instead culminated in a 21-14 win for the second-seeded Mounders after punching into the end zone with just :16 left on the game clock.
And that was after the excitement two minutes earlier when Elk Mound recovered what it thought was a Buffalo fumble on a third and 27 play, only to watch the referees turn the ball back over to Mondovi and replay the down.
The moment was met with loud disapproval from the crowd, but may have been predestined to give the Mounders the chance to hold off Mondovi and retake possession.
It was clear from the game’s outset that the Buffaloes were in the game to play, and were not going to be easily dismissed.
The Mounders spent the week leading up to the contest by preparing for Mondovi’s size, enthusiasm, and sheer hitting ability.
“They (the Buffaloes) are there to hit people,” Lew said. “They are a very aggressive team. We knew it was going to be a ‘body-blow’ type of game, and we found a way at the end.”
The Mounders got on the board first, when Brady Redwine ran it in from 30 yards out for the score. Gaelen Young tacked on the extra point with a good kick to split the uprights, making the score 7-0 in favor of the home team.
Mondovi allowed just 27 seconds to run off the clock before play caller Brennen Christopherson unleashed a 60-yard pass to Dustin Dziekan for the score. Raith Bauer’s kick was good, leaving the game knotted up at seven with 5:24 still to play in the first quarter.
Lew attributed the defensive misfire to miscommunication. After that, the Mounders seemed to buckle down and hold off the Buffaloes for much of the rest of the game.
Neither team would score again until Elk Mound put up another six late in the second quarter on an 11-yard pass from Dylan Black to Andrew Benson Young’s kick again sailed through the goal to give the Mounders a 14-7 lead with :22 to go before halftime.
That go ahead score came after Mondovi had suffered a turnover in Elk Mound’s territory.
Following intermission, the Buffaloes scored on a two-yard run from Carter Johnson and an extra-point kick from Raith Bauer to tie the game at 14 with 5:48 to go in the third quarter.
It would remain deadlocked at 14 until Elk Mound broke the plane of the goal line with just 16 seconds left in the contest. Brady Redwine’s one-yard plunge gave the Mounders six and the victory. Young again successfully nailed the point-after try to leave the Mounders with a 21-14 advantage as the final seconds ticked off the clock.
Junior standout Brady Redwine logged 170 yards on the ground, Dylan Black logged 140 passing yards for 12 completions, and Ben Lambele picked up 57 yards on four receptions.
The Mounders, who improved to 8-2 on the season, are now focused on the first team they faced for 2017 when Chetek-Weyerhaeuser comes to town this Friday, October 27 for the level-two playoff matchup. The Bulldogs, a 26-16 winner over sixth-seeded Spooner, bested the Elk Mound boys 20-6 in the August 18 season opener.
Lew is glad to face the team again, and happy for another reason.
“We get another game on our home field, that’s all we wanted,” he finished.
MONDOVI 14, ELK MOUND 21
Mondovi……………………..7 0 7 0 — 14
Elk Mound…………………..7 7 0 7 — 21
EM — B. Redwine 30-yd. run (G. Young kick), 5:51; M — D. Dziekan 60-yd. pass from B. Christopherson (R. Bauer kick), 5:24.
EM — A. Benson 11-yd. pass from D. Black (G. Young kick), :22.
M — C. Johnson 2-yd. run (R. Bauer kick), 5:48.
EM — B. Redwine 1-yd. run (G. Young kick), :16.
Passing (att-comp-int-yds): M (20-12-181-2) — B. Christopherson 19-12-181-1, C. Johnson 1-0-0-1; EM (23-12-140-0) — D. Black 23-12-140-0.
Rushing (att-yds): M (25-145) — N. Pelke 13-107, B. Johnson 7-23, C. Johnson 3-9, J. Falkner 1-4, D. Dziekan 1-2; EM (45-169) — B. Redwine 36-170, W. Muzynski 2-3, C. Lee 2-2, B. Lambele 1-1, D. Black 4-(-7).
Receiving (rec-yds): M (12-181) — C. Johnson 7-94, D. Dziekan 2-76, J. Falkner 2-8, B. Johnson 1-3; EM (9-121) — B. Lambele 4-57, A. Benson 2-26, T. Brantner 1-21, C. Lee 2-17.