Spartans defeat Tigers, claim NEC crown
BY JOSH STALOCH
WRIGHTSTOWN – Friday night’s regular-season finale between the North Eastern Conference’s two unbeaten teams came down to the wire and Luxemburg-Casco, by virtue of a tremendous defensive stand late in the fourth quarter, took a 16-12 victory to claim sole possession of the 2023 NEC crown.
“They did good tonight, Wrightstown is a good opponent,” said L-C head coach Neil Seering of his defense’s performance against the Tigers. “In this kind of weather, running the ball is (Wrightstown’s) thing but we found a way. It wasn’t easy but our guys stepped up.”
The Spartans’ defense, battling a tough NEC opponent in bad weather, shut down the Tigers’ first drive and then quarterback Max Ronsman and the L-C offense went to work.
Ronsman converted on a fourth-and-one with a keeper for a first down and then scored on the next play from 18-yards out to make it 7-0 after the extra point from Trace Schoenebeck.
The two teams went back-and-forth for the remainder of the opening quarter but, on the first play of the second, quarterback Trevor Vande Hey went up the middle off a block from his left tackle and went 54 yards up the left side of the field and into the end zone for Wrightstown’s first score of the contest.
The Tigers decided to go for two but L-C’s Mason Trimberger made a fantastic play to knock down an on-target pass that would have given the home team a one-point edge.
More down-and-dirty play in the rain and the mud kept both teams off the scoreboard for the rest of the half.
To open the third, Luxemburg-Casco’s Cam Dorner took control of the kickoff near the Tigers’ sideling at the 15-yard line. The sophomore trucked his way to the other side of the field, beating a wave of defenders while taking advantage of some big blocks by his teammates to get the ball down to the Wrightstown 21 in what would prove to be one of the game’s pivotal plays.
Minutes later, on a third-and-three play from the 14, Ronsman, making it look easy with textbook play from the L-C offensive line, walked into the end zone to make it 14-6.
The Spartans suffered a rare defensive slip on the first play of the fourth quarter, allowing a big run by Tigers’ back Aiden Humphreys to end up in the end zone. The home team looked to tie it up with a two-point attempt but L-C came up big once again to stuff the attempt and bring the lead to 14-12.
The play of the Spartans defense in this one can’t be overstated.
After shutting a Tigers’ drive down deep in their own territory, a high snap went over the Wrightstown kicker’s head and into the endzone. The Spartans’ defense chased him down for an easy safety to add a pair to their score.
Wrightstown had one last chance to turn the tables late in the game but the drive ended when a deep pass downfield ended with Trimberger making a gritty play to intercept the pass and end the threat.
“Nothing in life is easy. This was a hard thing to do and they earned it. The coaching staff, the players, I’m very proud of everybody. I couldn’t be happier for this group of kids. It’s been a great season. We had some adversity in that second week but we learned a lot about ourselves from it. We’ve had some injuries and people have had to step up. That’s what teams have to do. But we’ve got great leadership. The senior class has been awesome and, hopefully, they’re setting the standard for what we’ll be doing here in the future.”
Editor’s note: The Algoma Wolves finished their season with a 52-20 victory at home over Suring on Thursday, Oct. 14 and the Kewaunee Storm concluded their regular season undefeated with a 54-0 dismantling of the Bulldogs in Peshtigo on Friday.