Offensive struggles hit SPASH again in homecoming loss to Wausau West
By Jacob Heid
STEVENS POINT — The SPASH football team struggled offensively again on Sept 23 at home against Wausau West. The Panthers did not capitalize on numerous opportunities in Warriors territory, losing 27-17 in the homecoming game.
SPASH has struggled offensively all season long, especially in the red zone. The Panthers got to an early lead against Wausau West but did not execute deep in the enemy territory later in the game. SPASH opened the game by marching down the field and tacking on three points at the end of the drive. Wausau West answered with a 24-yard run to the house, making it a 6-3 game with about half of the quarter left. Both defenses held strong for the remainder of the quarter, with the Warriors leading 6-3.
Wausau West opened the second quarter by converting on a fourth down and scoring a couple of plays later. That made the score 13-3 in favor of the Warriors. SPASH turned the ball over on downs in Wausau West territory on the next drive, giving another opportunity for West to score. They ran the ball on third down from the Panthers’ eight-yard line, pushing the score to 20-3 with the game nearing halftime.
SPASH pushed themselves into good field position again, allowing for one more play inside Warrior territory before the break. Quarterback Grant Chandonais got picked off on the last play but finished the game 27/39, 289 yards, and one touchdown.
Head coach Ryan Eigenberger talked about the offense not converting in enemy territory.
“That’s been the story of a few of our games here. Just stalling out at bad times, and I think that comes with continuing to go and continuing to get reps,” he said. “We move the ball well. We just make a mistake deep in the opposing team’s territory.”
He also stated that execution is a point of emphasis in the coming weeks as the Panthers hope to push for the playoffs.
“I think finishing the drives (will be a focus). Sometimes we have penalties that hurt us. Sometimes some mistakes all over hurt us in those situations. I think that’s going to be our focus here as we head into a non-conference week.”
SPASH got the ball to open the second half and used running back Braylon Smola as an aggressor on the ground. He had a big drive rushing, finishing it with a touchdown that made it a 20-10 game. Smola finished the game with 98 yards rushing.
Eigenberger said that he told his team in the locker room that they were going to show more physicality in the second half and run the ball more.
Wausau West scored late in the fourth quarter, extending the game back to three scores, 27-10. Chandonais threw his touchdown with two minutes left in the game, making it 27-17. But, the Panthers did not get the ball back. The defense gave the offense opportunities to come back into the game, only allowing seven points in the second half.
SPASH travels to Menominee Falls High School next to face Milwaukee Academy of Science on Sept 30 at 7 p.m.