By Mitchell A. Skurzewski
For Zaleski Sports
EDGAR - The Edgar Wildcats have it written on their whiteboard in the weight room to have a “predator mindset.”
In Friday’s WIAA Division 7 Level 3 matchup, Gilman sure looked like easy prey for the Wildcats, as Edgar held the Pirates to 43 yards of total offense and rolled to a 47-0 win.
“Predator mindset is to always be on the attack every week and don’t be the prey,” Edgar running back/linebacker Austin Dahlke said. “We have been playing that way, and playing with nothing to lose and leaving it all out there on the field.”
Edgar (11-1) will face a familiar foe in the Division 7 state semifinals in Bangor, who defeated Turtle Lake 28-12 on Friday. Bangor (2015, 2017) and Edgar (2016) have won three of the last four D7 state titles, with Edgar beating Bangor in the 2016 title run and Bangor returning the favor in 2017.
It didn’t appear like Edgar would have an easy night early on as a fumble recovered by Gilman’s Brayden Boie put Gilman at the Wildcats 39-yard line in the first quarter. But a negative run and a snap over quarterback Gabe Gunderson’s head dimmed any scoring chances.
The Wildcats quickly went 78 yards the other way, capped off by a 4-yard touchdown run by Kaleb Hafferman and Edgar would lead 8-0 after one quarter.
The stalking Edgar defense helped put the game out of reach quickly. Not only did they hold the Pirates to 43 yards of offense, but the Wildcats forced three turnovers and added a special teams fumble recovery to put the offense in quality field position all night.
Hafferman plunged in from 1-yard out to make the score 15-0. On the ensuing kickoff, Edgar forced a Pirates’ fumble, recovered by Mattison Butt, and Hafferman’s third TD put Edgar up 21-0.
“I think tonight playing without (Mason) Stoudt, we had some problems in special teams with him being our punter, but overall I think we are playing our best football right now,” Edgar coach Jerry Sinz said. “We just have to not turn the ball over as that has been our problem when we have lost in the playoffs the last few years.”
A touchdown reception by Dahlke from Konnor Wolf capped the Wildcats’ first half scoring set up by a Caden Higgins interception to give Edgar a comfortable 27-0 lead at half. The same combination connected again shortly into the second half, as Edgar caught the Pirates in a blitz and Dahlke hauled in the screen pass from Wolf, zig-zagged and scampered 46 yards to paydirt.
“I went to the coaches at halftime and said if we run that play again, it was there,” Dahlke said. “We had it the first play of the game and didn’t complete it, but it was wide open. We made it count in the second half.”
Hafferman had 125 total yards in the game and Dahlke did it all with 100 total yards, an interception and a fumble recovery.
“We have been working hard as a unit to convert on some pass plays,” Wolf said. “It felt good to execute tonight. Glad I was able to hit that screen in the second half and Austin did the rest.”
Now Bangor (12-0) awaits, and for the fifth straight year, either Edgar or Bangor will appear in the Division 7 title game.
“We played them in 2016 and again in a snowstorm here in Edgar in 2017,” Sinz said. “They run that tight-double wing. We have played them a few times in the playoffs so it will be a fun game and the kids will be looking forward to it.”
Wildcats 47, Pirates 0
Gilman 0 0 0 0 - 0
Edgar 8 19 13 7 - 47
E – Kaleb Hafferman 4 run (Kyle Brewester from Konnor Wolf).
E – Hafferman 1 run (Austin Miller kick).
E – Hafferman 6 run (kick failed).
E - Austin Dahlke 4 pass from Wolf (kick failed).
E – Austin Dahlke 46 pass from Wolf (conversion pass failed).
E – Brewster 23 run (Miller kick).
E – Ayden Weisenberger 1 run (Miller kick).
First downs: Gilman 3; Edgar 15.
Rushing (att.-yards): G: 26-38; E 36-217.
Passing (comp-att-yards-int): G 3-13-5-2; E 6-12-127-1.
Total yards: G 43; E 344.
Penalties (no.-yards): G 4-30; E 4-30.
Fumbles (total-lost): G 3-2; E 3-1.
Punting (no.-avg.): G 6-29.5; E 2-23.
Rushing: G, Kroeplin 9-25, Boie 8-14, Gunderson 9-minus 1. E, Hafferman 13-79, Dahlke 8-35, Brewster 3-45, Wolf 2-18, Miller 1-25, Weisenberger 5-15, Butt 1-1, Kania 1-0, Lipinski 2-minus 1,
Passing: G, Gunderson 3-13-5-2. E, Wolf 6-11-127-1, Butt 0-1-0-0.
Receiving: G, Wisocky 1-5, Boie 1-5, Kroeplin 1-minus 5. E, Hafferman 1-11, Drew Guden 2-54, Dahlke 3-63.
Punting: G, Boie 6-177, 29.5; E, Miller 1-27, Brewster 1-19.
Records: Gilman 9-3; Edgar 11-1.