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by Joel DeWitt
CADOTT — Heading into the final third of their schedule, the Hilltoppers found themselves once again facing a team in Cadott that is like themselves. Both were tied for third place and looking for a postseason spot.
Also like last week, the Hilltoppers would give up an early score to an opportunistic team. But true to form, Glenwood City would collect themselves and storm back. They would score 24 unanswered points en route to a convincing 31-13 victory on October 1st against the host Hornets.
“We don’t intend on getting down early, this is something we need to work on,” Toppers’ headcoach Shane Strong commented on the team’s early deficits. “I think our ability to respond has been due to our leadership lessons throughout the season.”
The early deficit was a result of Cadott returning the opening kickoff to the Hilltopper 29-yard line. While the defense did its best to hold the Hornets, a 25-yard pass play on fourth down from Tristan Drier to Ryan Sonnentag would give Cadott the early 7-0 advantage.
After the early misstep on the fourth down conversion, the Hilltopper defense buckled down. On the Hornets final five possessions of the half, the Hilltoppers held them to two punts, a turnover on downs, an interception and finally time expired on Cadott at the half.
The interception is what set up the offense for the score. Hilltopper defensive back Mitch Bliese picked off a Drier pass across the middle and returned it to the Cadott 35-yard line with 2:59 remaining in the half.
It would only take the Hilltoppers a couple of plays to capitalize.
Max Janson would take the ball 25 yards to the end zone for the first Hilltopper points on the evening. The PAT by Marcis DeSmith would knot the score at seven apiece.
The second half would see the Hilltoppers be tough on both sides of the ball. While the defense was stuffing the Hornets offense, the Glenwood City offense would see themselves score on four of six possessions.
After receiving the opening kickoff at their own 24-yard line, Hilltopper Brady McCarthy would take a third and nine hand off and sweep around the left side and speed down the sideline for the score. The PAT would give Glenwood City the 14-7 lead.
The next Glenwood City possession would start on its own 40-yard line. After a first down and facing third and long, the Hilltoppers would once again turn to Janson. He would find a hole and take it 43 yards for the score and the 21-7 lead following DeSmith’s extra point kick.
“Max plays hard every snap of the game, so if our line can match his determination, we have a great chance to move the ball,” Strong commented on his back’s performance.
For the third series in a row, the Hilltoppers would put points on the board. DeSmith would kick a field goal from 39 yards out that would extend the lead to 24-7. The kick was set up by 43-yard rush by Janson to put the Hilltoppers in position.
After Cadott would cut the score to 24-13 at the 9:42 mark of the fourth quarter, you’d see the Hilltoppers pound the ball as they tried controlling the clock.
However, the Hilltoppers would catch the Hornets off guard and make them pay. With Glenwood City facing a third and six and Cadott packing the box, the Hilltoppers would use play action where senior quarterback Bryce Wickman would find an open Brady Klatt who would take it 38 yards to the Cadott 2-yard line.
Janson would finish the drive with his third rushing touchdown of the evening to put the score at 31-13, which would be the final on the evening.
Glenwood City had 270 yards on the ground and 359 total, with much of it coming in the second half.
“We run an unconventional offense, so we make adjustments throughout the game based on how they decide to defend us,” mentioned Strong of the team’s performance. “I made a couple of adjustments at halftime to take advantage of a weakness in the front.”
Janson led the way offensively for Glenwood with 177 yards on 20 carries and three touchdowns. McCarthy added 78 and one score. Wickman had 89 yards passing on the evening with Klatt leading the way with three receptions for 56 yards.
Glenwood City (3-2 and 4-3) will travel a little over six miles this Friday, October 8th to take on rival Boyceville. Both teams are tied for second place and the outcome of this game will have implications on playoff seedings.
“I said at the beginning of the year that Boyceville has all the pieces to be a championship level team and I still believe that,” said Strong. “I believe in our team; I think we can play with anyone in our league when we execute our jobs. This will be a very difficult challenge for our team, but we will be ready to play.”
Game time for the annual contest will be 7:00 p.m.