WINNECONNE — After a tough Week 1 loss at Wrightstown, Freedom was looking to even its record on the young season as it traveled to the defending Division 4 state champs Friday night.
Winneconne wasn’t going to be a pushover, not after opening the season with a 35-8 win over Ripon.
However, Freedom was focused on not going 0-for-2 on the young season and made a statement early with two touchdowns on its first three drives. From there the defense took over as the Irish handed the Wolves their first loss since last Oct. 4, 2013, with a 21-0 win.
“It feels good,” Freedom coach Clint Kriewaldt said. “It’s more important for the kids. This was a tough team, a tough game. Winneconne is going to be good this year.
“To get a win, it’s huge for them. We have a good opponent next week in Waupaca. It gets their confidence up.”
“Feels great because last week we didn’t play so well,” senior Brett Schommer said. “They’re defending state champs, we knew what we had to do. We stepped up to it and di it.”
Freedom took the opening kickoff and marched 69 yards on nine plays to grab a 7-0 lead as Andrew Connelly completed a 2-yard pass to Seth Doxater. Then after punting in its next possession, Freedom went 84 yards on six plays and led 14-0 one play into the second quarter as Brody Bazile found the end zone from 15 yards.
From that point on Freedom’s offense sputtered, consistently halting drives with penalties and mistakes, but it didn’t matter. The Irish defense bottled up Winneconne, which lost arguably its best player to injury, Mitchell Markert.
The running back/linebacker suffered an injury to his left fibula in the second quarter and his playmaking ability left the Wolves without much punch on offense. Markert had gained 48 yards on eight carries.
Winneconne managed just 139 yards for the game and never got close to scoring.
“Most of the time I just try to get our defense in position to make plays,” Kriewaldt said. “If everybody does their job, we should be successful. They got us on a couple trap plays. Covers-wise, I thought we did pretty good.”
Among the players who stood out on defense was Schommer, who in addition to a 41-yard touchdown reception in the fourth quarter, had two interceptions.
“We just made sure they couldn’t run at all or pass,” Schommer said. “Our line was stopping them. We did well on defense.”
Freedom, which had 351 total yards in offense, had some pop on offense and it came from Isaac Gonnering, who totaled 149 yards on 19 carries. His ability to cut back and hit the hole quickly was a problem for Winneconne.
As good as Gonnering was, though, Winneconne certainly wasn’t as sharp as it needs to be. Among the negatives on offense that stood out were a fumble on Winneconne’s 2-yard line, likely preventing a touchdown, and a minus -19-yard drive on the second possession of the game.
“We put some points on the board in a hurry and then we hit a lull,” Kriewaldt said. “It was sloppy. We keep shooting ourselves in the foot with penalties. If we can clean up our mistakes, I think we’ll be alright.”
The start of the season doesn’t get any easier for Freedom which will play a third straight road game in Week 3 at Waupaca.
“We weren’t clean at all,” Schommer said. “Waupaca is a strong team. We have to bring out the fire like we did tonight.”
Notes: Friday’s game was originally scheduled for Freedom, but Freedom’s field is getting new grass and is not ready to be played on. … Freedom beat Winneconne last year, 28-0. … Winneconne hosts New London next week. … Freedom made all three extra points after missing two of three last week.
FREEDOM 21, WINNECONNE 0
Freedom……..…7 7 0 7 — 21
Winneconne……0 0 0 0 — 0
FREE — Andrew Connelly 2-yard pass to Seth Doxater (kick good); 7:38. FREE 7-0
FREE — Brody Bazile 15 yard run (kick good); 11:52. FREE 14-0.
FREE — Connelly 41-yard pass to Brett Schommer (kick good); 4:26. FREE 21-0.