T-Birds going to Madison
Huettner breaks rushing record
By Greg Seubert
One more win.
That’s all that stands in the way between the Iola-Scandinavia football team and its first state championship.
The Thunderbirds kept their perfect season alive Nov. 9 with a 27-25 win over Grantsburg in a WIAA Division 6 state semifinal at Dorais Field in Chippewa Falls.
Both teams came into the game with 12-0 records. Iola-Scandinavia will now face Racine Lutheran at 1 p.m. Thursday, Nov. 15, in the Division 6 state championship game at Camp Randall Stadium. The Crusaders advanced to their first state championship game with a 55-28 win over Lancaster in the other semifinal.
Not only will the T-Birds be making their fourth trip to the state finals, running back Bryce Huettner broke the previous state career rushing record with an 8-yard run during the game’s final drive. The senior finished with 172 yards on 35 carries.
The T-Birds needed only three plays to score the game’s first touchdown. Connor Kurki set up Huettner’s 12-yard run with a 43-yard quarterback keeper on the first play from scrimmage. Kurki added the extra point and Iola-Scandinavia had a 7-0 lead less than a minute into the game.
Grantsburg’s first drive ended with Kurki’s interception of Luke Anderson’s pass, but the T-Birds turned the ball over on downs. Iola-Scandinavia soon had the ball again, however, as Huettner recovered Anderson’s fumble at the Grantsburg 22-yard line. Huettner capped a five-play drive with a 2-yard run with 3:09 remaining in the first quarter.
The Pirates drove inside the T-Birds’ 10-yard line in the second quarter, but ended up turning the ball over on downs. Grantsburg also turned the ball over on downs on its next drive and the T-Birds answered with a third touchdown before halftime. Kurki connected with Will Cady for a 14-yard touchdown pass with 39 seconds to go in the half for a 20-0 lead at the break.
Huettner had 114 rushing yards at the break, but the second half belonged to Grantsburg’s Leo Chenal, a University of Wisconsin recruit.
Chenal’s 3-yard run capped a 12-play, 80-yard drive that took up almost half of the third quarter.
The T-Birds answered Chenal’s score with Carter Kurki’s 4-yard run with 1:54 remaining in the third quarter and Iola-Scandinavia took a 27-7 lead into the fourth quarter.
All three of Grantsburg’s drives in the final period ended with a touchdown. Anderson scored from 7 yards out with 9:36 to go and Chenal scored on a 53-yard run with 6:51 remaining, Anderson’s pass on the two-point conversion try fell incomplete and the T-Birds still had a 29-19 lead.
The Pirates’ defense held the T-Birds to a three-and-out and Grantsburg cut the lead to two points with 3:38 to go on Anderson’s 41-yard pass to Chenal.
The Pirates attempted to tie the game with a two-point conversion, but the T-Birds’ defense stopped Bryce Roufs short of the end zone.
Huettner carried the ball on five of the six plays on the next drive and the T-Birds were able to run out the clock.