Amherst football routs Wittenberg in conference opener
Portage County Gazette
By John Kemmeter
The Amherst High School football team used a quick-strike offense to pull away from Wittenberg-Birnamwood at Community Stadium at Goerke Field in Stevens Point Friday, Sept 6.
The second-ranked Falcons (3-0, 1-0) scored three touchdowns on their first handful of plays on offense to get out to a 21-0 lead in the second quarter, and went on to a 42-0 win over Wittenberg (2-1, 0-1) in their Central Wisconsin Conference (CWC) Large opener.
“We had the mentality to come out strong, and to play our game,” said Amherst senior running back/wide receiver/cornerback Chris Andersen. “They had two big wins, but we just had to be physical and play our game.”
“We started fast, that’s the key,” said Amherst football head coach Mark Lusic. “Offensively, I think we ran five or six plays, and it was 21-0.
“The defense put us in a good position, they moved the ball, but we didn’t break,” he said. “Overall, it was great win for our guys.”
With Amherst’s home field under renovation, the game was moved to Stevens Point, where the Falcons took control early.
Junior Bryan Groshek blocked a punt on Wittenberg’s opening possession, and on Amherst’s first offensive play from scrimmage, senior quarterback Lincoln Cullen hit junior wide receiver Carmelo Aleman on a 32-yard touchdown pass to give the Falcons a 7-0 lead with 10:12 left in the first quarter after the extra-point kick from senior Mason Czech.
“The corner was one yard off me, and coach saw it and called the play, and magic from there,” said Aleman. “A good throw by Lincoln Cullen, an amazing pass.”
Following a fumble recovery from senior cornerback Cyle Zblewski, Andersen had a 70-yard run on the next play, which set up a four-yard touchdown run from Andersen that gave Amherst a 14-0 lead with 1:16 to play in the first quarter.
Groshek had a 34-yard run on the ensuing possession and scored on a five-yard touchdown run on the following play, as the Falcons got out to a 21-0 lead with 5:37 to go in the second quarter.
Wittenberg had a chance to score late in the first half, as it reached the Amherst five-yard line in the closing seconds of the second quarter, but senior linebacker Nic Dombrowski intercepted a tipped pass at the one-yard line with three seconds to go, and Amherst went into halftime with a 21-0 lead.
“I don’t want to say we stalled in the second quarter, but we didn’t execute what I wanted to execute,” said Lusic. “The second half, we came out firing and put up two scores right off the bat.”
Amherst marched down the field on the opening possession of the second half and scored on a seven-yard touchdown pass from Cullen to Andersen to make it 28-0 with 10:39 remaining in the third quarter, and senior running back Aidan Elwood had a one-yard touchdown run with 8:00 to play in the third quarter to push the lead to 35-0 and bring on the running clock.
Sophomore running back Peter Werner added a two-yard touchdown run with 2:14 left in the fourth quarter to cap the scoring for the Falcons, as they had five different players score a touchdown in the 42-0 win.
Elwood finished with 10 tackles, senior linebacker Owen Zakrzewski recorded five tackles, and Dombrowski and junior safety Tristan Schelvan each had an interception to lead the defense, which limited Wittenberg to 166 yards of total offense in the shutout.
Cullen completed 4-of-9 passes for 51 yards, with two touchdowns and one interception, while Amherst rushed for 237 yards and four touchdowns on 24 carries, as Andersen finished with 74 yards rushing and one touchdown on three carries, Elwood totaled 55 yards and one touchdown on five carries, and Groshek had 46 yards and one touchdown on three carries in the win.
“From top to bottom, we’ve got players this year,” said Andersen. “We’ve got some talent.”
“We’ve got some depth at certain positions, and the thing is, I trust these guys,” said Lusic. “Last year we didn’t have this depth, and I didn’t trust all of them.
“But the trust is starting to show up,” he said, “They’re starting to execute and starting to understand what it is to play at a high level.”