BERLIN – Waupaca High School’s football program has had its way with Berlin since the early 1990s, when both teams were members of the East Central Conference.
That string of Comet victories over the Indians nearly came to an end Friday, Sept. 2, but Waupaca returned to town with a hard-fought 28-27 overtime win over the Indians.
“I thought Berlin played excellent football from the get-go,” coach John Koronkiewicz said after watching Berlin pull off what would have been the biggest upset so far in the Eastern Valley Conference.
“They put together a pretty good game plan and did some different things that they didn’t do in their first two games,” he said. “Our guys, I thought, did a poor job of adjusting to what they were doing early. We gave them some easy stuff and that gave (Berlin) some confidence as far as what they could do.
“We lost the field position game, we lost the turnover game and we had some inopportune penalties that hurt drives, but you have to give our guys credit,” he added. “We talk about character and this is the kind of game that you can demonstrate that kind of character. There were numerous times where we could have put our head down and said it was over, but they hung in there and we found a way to win a football game that was very was highly contested.”
Waupaca never led in the game until Bjorn Asher’s extra point in overtime snapped a 27-27 tie.
Brandon Hale caught a 42-yard pass from Bryan Hargrave to give Berlin a 7-0 lead midway through the first quarter, but Waupaca responded with Beau Ash’s 1-yard run on the Comets’ next drive. The Indians quickly regained the lead on their next play, as Jacob Wagner scored on an 88-yard run for the final score of the first half.
Waupaca tied the game with 13 seconds remaining in the third quarter on a 1-yard run, but Berlin’s Eric Chier scored on a 41-yard run to cap the Indians’ second one-play drive.
Ash tied the game with 1:44 remaining with a 4-yard run to tie the game at 21-21.
Berlin scored on its first play in overtime, as Nate Silloway caught a 35-yard pass from Hargrave, but Matt Parsons’ extra point kick just missed to the right.
That kept the Comets’ chances alive. Menzies scored from 3 yards out and Asher added the extra point.
The Comets outgained the Indians 348-298. Ash led Waupaca’s ground game with 114 yards on 22 carries and also caught four passes for 87 yards. Menzies completed 13 of 25 passes for 167 yards.
“We came up with some big plays at great times,” Koronkiewicz said. “I thought both teams played their hearts out. It was the third time (Berlin) was ahead or tied going into the fourth quarter. I would be surprised if they didn’t have some success. In fact, I might be a little upset with them if they don’t have some success because they proved here that they can be a very good football game. We’ll see.”
The Comets will host Clintonville at 7 p.m. Friday, Sept. 9. The Truckers are 2-1 in EVC play and are coming off of a 27-0 win over Winneconne.
“This was a gut check on our part,” Koronkiewicz said. “Our guys passed that test.”