The Wausau East Lumberjack football program was coming off a 1 win season going into last night's opener with Wisconsin Rapids. They were playing a Wisconsin Rapids team that scored over 40 points against East last year. And they were breaking in a new QB plus an entirely new offensive line. Oh, and by the way, they were also being run by a new head coach...the 4th in the last five years. But all of that was put in the rear view mirror after a stunning second half comeback and a thrilling 19-13 win at Thom Field. New coach Tom Tourtillot's debut was a success despite some stumbles in a scoreless first half. East had a couple of chances on short fields and couldnt move the football. The kicking game struggled all night but the defense kept them in the game. Rapids scored first after a long pass set them up inside the 1. But that was all Rapids could muster until the 4th quarter. Meanwhile new QB Kyle Daniel settled down and played very well in the second half completing 7-9 passes and avoiding big sacks with some nimble footwork. And they got the ground game going as Brennan Becker and Isaac Stine combined for 128 yds in the second half and 185 for the game. The big run was a 61 yard scamper up the middle untouched for a score by Becker with 6:50 to play. It tied the game at 13 but the extra point was missed and it looked like overtime might be looming. But the Lumberjack defense got a stop and the East offense was able to move the ball but faced a 4th down and long at the Rapids 23 yard line with under a minute to play. Daniel heaved up a Hail Mary pass toward the end zone and Tim Nass was able to come down with it on the 1 as he was draped by two Rapids defenders. A few seconds later and Becker pounded into the end zone for his 3rd TD of the game and East had the lead and the game matching their win total from all of last year.
Some thoughts from this one
# Kyle Daniel looked good after getting rid of his jitters. He threw the ball hard and on target...and he was able to avoid the rush on more than a few occasions.
#my apologies to Tim Nass for calling the wrong player on the Hail Mary catch that set up the winning TD. It was hard to see on the far side of the field as Nass went up and made the catch between two defenders
# the two headed rushing beast of Becker/Stine will do some damage this year
#after struggling to control the line of scrimmage in the first half the O-line played much better
# A large number of penalties was a concern but that should get cleaned up as we go forward
# the defense was very good...I can see why he's going with a 3-4 defense with a very talented group of linebackers.
# The Lumberjacks recovered a fumble, blocked a punt and extra point and got an interception that iced the game.
# you could see the energy of the coaching staff translate to the players
# the kicking game needs some work...alot of missed kicks or this game would have been over earlier.
# After the game the team gathered in front of their fans and the school song was played which I'm told will become a tradition.
# also after the game the team shed their shoulder pads and gathered in a circle for stretching and cool-down excercise...I don't think I've ever seen that in my 20 plus years of covering games
# the press box at Thom Field continues to be one of the worst. I spent most of the night listening to the Rapids coaches yell into their head sets that they couldnt hear the sideline.
# I have a good feeling about the hiring of Tom Tourtillot and his ability to change the direction of this program.
The Brewers return to action tonight as they start a weekend series with the Pirates. Tonights game will be heard on Foxsports Radio AM1390 & FM 93.9 as the Packers will be playing on WSAU. The Brewers have 35 games left in the regular season and 25 of them are against teams in the Central Division. The Brewers have led or tied the Central every day since April 5th but the Cardinals are lurking just a game and half back. I'm heading down to Miller Park on Sunday and it's Jean Segura Bobblehead Day! I have a few extra tickets...they are $30 each if you are interested e-mail me at email@example.com.
The DC Everest football team opens the season tonight at home against Stevens Point. Chris Conley will have the call from Stiehm Stadium and it will air following the Brewers on Foxsports Radio AM1390 & FM 93.9. It will also be posted as a podcast on foxsportswausau.com.
Wausau West also opens their season tonight at home vs Marshfield.
Songs Of The Day (from my I-pod)
No Surrender-Bruce Springsteen (1984) a track run "Born In The USA" but it certainly would have fit on "The River". A great rave-up song but one that was sparingly played in concert back then and usually as a acoustic slow song
No Tell Lover-Chicago(1978) one of those Peter Cetera ballads from the Hot Streets album...the first without Terry Kath as the band began moving toward a more mellow, ballad heavy recording style. It did go Top Twenty. I've always thought Cetera was underrated as a bassist and Danny Seraphine has been one of my favorite drummers.