Win sets up rematch for Rockets with Amherst
By Paul Lecker
SPENCER — While Spencer/Columbus’ high-powered offense, led by senior running back Hunter Luepke, has earned much of the hype this season, the Rockets’ defense has been just as stellar.
Not much changed in the Rockets’ WIAA Division 5 Level 1 playoff on Friday night.
Luepke racked up six more touchdowns, giving him 39 this season, and the Spencer/Columbus defense allowed just 178 yards as the Rockets rolled to a 49-17 victory over Oconto at Spencer High School.
Spencer/Columbus (9-1) moves on to a Level 2 game at Amherst (9-1) on Oct. 27. This is the third-straight year the Rockets and Falcons will meet in the postseason. Amherst beat Spencer/Columbus 42-0 in the Division 5 state championship game in 2015 and 42-14 in a Level 2 playoff game a year ago.
Spencer/Columbus’ defense allowed the Blue Devils seven first downs, with four of those coming on Oconto’s lone touchdown drive late in third quarter.
“The defense was stellar tonight,” Spencer/Columbus coach Jason Gorst said. “I thought Coach (Todd) Hildebrandt put together a great game plan. Guys came out and executed it, very good tackling, and really got down and disruptive up front, and I thought our defensive backs really made plays.”
Senior safety Bubba Post made a number of big tackles on the outside to keep the Blue Devils from making long gains.
“He’s a heck of a ballplayer, a good senior football player,” Gorst said. “He didn’t get a ton of playing time early in the season, but he has a great attitude and sticks with it. He played a key role tonight. He’s a sure tackler, doesn’t matter the size of anybody, and made some really great open field tackles. I’m really proud of his effort and contribution tonight.”
Oconto’s defense proved to be a formidable foe early, holding Spencer/Columbus in check. However, the Blue Devils still could not get off the field.
Luepke picked up a first down on a fourth-down fake punt to keep the first drive of the game alive. Spencer/Columbus picked up two more first downs, and eventually Luepke ran in from the 3 to culminate the 13-play, 72-yard drive that gobbled up the first 6:28 of the game.
Luepke scored again on the first play of the second quarter from 50 yards out on fourth-and-2, which put the Rockets up 14-0.
Oconto (7-3) got on the scoreboard with a safety after a dropped snap on a punt attempt by Luepke. Spencer/Columbus then proceeded to score on five of its next six possessions.
Luepke caught a 24-yard TD pass from Jarred Mandel to make it 21-2 at halftime. Luepke then added TD runs of 5 and 12 yards in the third quarter, and 59 yards early in the fourth.
Sophomore Hayden Bauman, who added 111 yards rushing in the win, capped the scoring with a 14-yard touchdown run with 4:01 remaining.
Oconto’s Isaac Woller ran back the opening kickoff of the second half 90 yards for a touchdown, and the Blue Devils’ lone offensive points came on a 3-yard TD run from Bryce O’Connor on the first play of the fourth quarter.
Next up is the two-time defending Division 5 state champion Amherst. While the players may be different, the Falcons are as potent as ever. Amherst won its playoff opener 53-6 over Colby on Friday.
“They run a similar scheme to what they have, and we know the quality of program, the quality of the players and coaches over there, and have a lot of respect for them,” Gorst said.
(Hub City Times Sports Reporter Paul Lecker is also the publisher of MarshfieldAreaSports.com.)
Rockets 49, Blue Devils 17
Oconto 0 2 7 8 – 17
Spencer/Columbus 7 14 14 14 – 49
SC – Hunter Luepke 3 run (Evan Dieringer kick), 5:32.
SC – Luepke 50 run (Dieringer kick), 11:49.
O – Safety, 4:51.
SC – Luepke 24 pass from Jarred Mandel (Dieringer kick), 2:29.
O – Isaac Woller 90 kickoff return (Carson Moe kick), 11:46.
SC – Luepke 5 run (Dieringer kick), 8:29.
SC – Luepke 12 run (Dieringer kick), 2:20.
O – Bryce O’Connor 3 run (Moe pass from Jake Krueger), 11:54.
SC – Luepek 59 run (Dieringer kick), 10:12.
SC – Hayden Bauman 14 run (Dieringer kick), 4:01.
First downs: Oconto 7; Spencer/Columbus 15.
Rushing (att-yards): O 27-87; SC 48-406.
Passing (comp-att-yards-int): O 7-18-91-1; SC 5-12-134-0.
Total yards: O 178; SC 540.
Penalties (no.-yards): O 5-45; SC 8-63.
Fumbles (total-lost): O 1-1; SC 1-0.
Punting (no.-avg.): O 4-32.8; SC 1-40.0.
Rushing: O, Zach Sherman 5-37, Bryce O’Connor 13-31, Isaac Woller 2-13, Carson Moe 2-5, Issac Diaz 2-3, Edwards Russell 1-0, Jake Krueger 2-minus 2. SC, Hunter Luepke 22-260, Hayden Bauman 13-111, Carson Hildebrandt 9-36, Austin Bacon 1-minus 1, Colton Schillinger 2-minus 2, Mandel 2-minus 8.
Passing: O, Krueger 7-18-91-1. SC, Mandel 5-12-134-0.
Receiving: O, Isaac Woller 2-33, O’Connor 1-24, Troy Wenzel 1-17, Sherman 1-7, Bennett Frazer 1-6, Evan Allan 1-4. SC, Bauman 2-71, Ethan Meece 1-35, Luepke 1-24, Hildebrandt 1-4.
Fumble recoveries (defense): SC, Hildebrandt.
Interceptions (defense): SC, Lukas Ellefson.
Punting: O, Sherman 4-32.8. SC, Luepke 1-40.0.
Records: Oconto 7-3; Spencer/Columbus 9-1.