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Stevens Point's Mason Jelinski picks off a pass near the end of the first half of Friday's game at Marshfield. The Panthers won 29-6 to grab a share of the Valley Football Association championship. (Photo by Paul Lecker/Zaleski Sports)

By Paul Lecker

Zaleski Sports

MARSHFIELD – A lot was at stake in the regular-season Valley Football Association finale between Stevens Point and Marshfield on Friday night at Heiting Community Stadium.

Stevens Point could earn a share of the VFA championship, its first since 2016, with a victory, while Marshfield could lock up its spot in the WIAA playoffs with a win.

After a tight first quarter, Stevens Point was able to pull away and went on to defeat the Tigers 29-6 on Senior Night at Marshfield High School.

SPASH (7-3 overall) will share the VFA title with Wausau West and Wisconsin Rapids, as all three finish 6-1 in the conference. Marshfield falls to 4-5 and 3-4 in the VFA, but found out later Friday that did qualify for the Division 2 playoffs.

“This is awesome, this is a great feeling,” first-year Stevens Point coach Michael Krenz said. “These kids have worked really hard for this. It’s been a goal for us obviously, all year, and we’ll use this as momentum going forward. We will not rest on this, we will not hang our hat on this. It’s a huge accomplishment, but moving forward, that’s where we are at every single week.”

Stevens Point took the opening kickoff and drove 56 yards in 11 plays, scoring on a 9-yard touchdown pass from Riley Warzynski to Peyton Pumper and grabbed a 7-0 lead.

Marshfield got a big play from its special teams as Christian Chin raced 61 yards on the ensuing kickoff and a penalty tacked on a little more, giving the Tigers the ball at the 14. Two plays later quarterback Trevor Foemmel ran in from the 7, but Marshfield missed the extra point and trailed 7-6.

Marshfield running back Garrett Willuweit looks for an opening during the second half of the Tigers' loss to Stevens Point on Friday at Heiting Community Stadium. (Photo by Paul Lecker/Zaleski Sports)

Marshfield got a break late in the first quarter when a short punt gave them the ball at the 19, but a sack on second down thwarted the drive and SPASH took over on downs at the 18.

The Panthers put together another methodical drive, going 82 yards in 12 plays. A 36-yard pass from Warzynski to Quinton Martin set up a 5-yard TD run by Braylon Smola.

Bridger Bolen recovered a fumble later in the quarter and scored two plays later as Warzynski connected with Pumper again for a 4-yard touchdown and the Panthers took a 22-6 lead into halftime.

SPASH finished off the scoring in the fourth when Warzynski tossed his third touchdown pass, this time for 16 yards to Jayden Zelinski, making it 29-6.

Marshfield was held to 104 total yards with 38 of that coming on its final drive. The Tigers failed to score more than once in four of their last five games, all losses.

“A lot of things go on and a lot of young kids on offense, and you have to make things happen when you get the chance,” Marshfield coach Denny Goettl said. “We didn’t and we haven’t done that the last few weeks. There’s going to be a lot of work going ahead. Everyone’s 0-0 going into the playoffs, and that’s the way you’ve got to look at it.”

Marshfield’s 25 seniors were honored before the game and Goettl said that group went through a lot during the past few years.

“They’re resilient,” Goettl said. “Most of the defensive guys are seniors and you saw how they came together and what kind of a crew they were.”

Panthers 29, Tigers 6

Stevens Point 7 15 0 7 - 29

Marshfield 6 0 0 0 - 6

First Quarter

SP – Peyton Pumper 9 pass from Riley Warzynski (Cam Saeger kick), 6:33.

M – Trevor Foemmel 7 run (kick blocked), 5:32.

Second Quarter

SP – Braylon Smola 5 run (Saeger kick), 3:39.

SP – Pumper 4 pass from Warzynski (Smola run), 0:46.

Fourth Quarter

SP – Jayden Zelinski 16 pass from Warzynski (Saeger kick), 6:55.

Team Statistics

First downs: Stevens Point 10; Marshfield 8.

Rushing (att-yards): SP 31-66; M 26-56.

Passing (comp-att-yards-int): SP 14-24-162-0; M 7-17-48-2.

Total yards: SP 228; M 104.

Penalties (no.-yards): SP 5-52; M 6-26.

Fumbles (total-lost): SP 2-0; M 4-1.

Team Statistics

Rushing: SP, Braylon Smola 10-33, Ben Raczek 3-15, T.J. Schierl 1-13, Jaybreal Palbrach 10-10, Riley Warzynski 7-minus 5. M, Jeff Marsh 3-18, Matthew Trulen 7-15, Christian Chin 2-14, Garrett Willuweit 5-7, Trevor Foemmel 9-2.

Passing: SP, Warzynski 14-24-162-0. M, Foemmel 7-17-48-2.

Receiving: SP, Pumper 6-41, Quinton Martin 4-92, Danny Zdroik 2-5, Jayden Zelinski 1-16, Raczek 1-8.

Interceptions (defense): SP, Mason Jelinski, Tommy Drohner.

Fumble recoveries (defense): SP, Bridger Bolen.

Records: Stevens Point 7-3, 6-1 Valley Football Association; Marshfield 4-5, 3-4 Valley Football Association.