Panthers fall to explosive Greendale in quarterfinals

by Greg Ceilley of The Review staff


BRAD TRAKEL, Plymouth tailback, follows the blocking by lineman Matt Olig (62) and fullback Tyler Willeford in Friday’s state football playoff game versus Greendale. — Review photo by Greg Ceilley BRAD TRAKEL, Plymouth tailback, follows the blocking by lineman Matt Olig (62) and fullback Tyler Willeford in Friday’s state football playoff game versus Greendale. — Review photo by Greg Ceilley GREENDALE — The Plymouth Panthers battled the whole way but were unable to slow down Greendale’s explosive offense which rolled up 473 yards to ignite a 41-27 win in a Division 3 football state quarterfinal game here Friday night.

PHS, which made a Level 3 appearance for the second straight year, ended a terrific season with a 10-2 record. The Panthers, who had a 10-game winning streak snapped, were a No. 2 region seed.

Greendale, 12-0 and a No. 1 seed, moves on to the semifinals (Level 4) against Appleton Xavier (11-1) Friday at Xavier at 7 p.m.

Junior quarterback Josh Ringelberg was the catalyst of Greendale’s attack as he ran for three touchdowns and passed for two. The quick, elusive Ringelberg, the beneficiary of strong blocking up front, sliced through the tough PHS defense for a game-high 181 yards rushing and also threw for 143.

“We gave everything we had. We just came up short on a few plays,” said PHS head coach Dan Knaus.

“They have a lot of good athletes and made a few more plays than we did. We hadn’t seen Ringelberg run that much on film. He really excelled.

“They forced us into defenses we normally don’t play,” Knaus said.

It was tough for PHS to defend Greendale’s offense because the home team was effective on the ground and passing. Greendale ran for an impressive 330 yards, with running back Frankie Rutkowski contributing 98.

Greendale took the opening kickoff and drove 71 yards on the ground to the PHS 2-yard line, keyed by Ringelberg who ran for 38 yards on four attempts. A bad snap went for a 14-yard loss back to the 16 and Greendale eventually missed a 32-yard field goal.

On their first play, the Panthers went to their bag of tricks as tailback Brad Trakel took a handoff and threw a 42-yard pass to wide receiver Zac Cain to the Greendale 38. Two plays later, Cain caught a 20-yard pass from quar- terback Kollin Neils to the 7. PHS lost a fumble on the next play and Greendale took over at its 8.

After gaining one first down, Greendale had to punt and PHS set up at its 39. The Panthers marched 61 yards in nine plays, capped off by Trakel’s 1-yard scoring plunge. Trakel sparked the series with 50 yards rushing on six carries, including 15- and 17-yard bursts. Jack Heginbottom’s PAT gave PHS a 7-0 lead with 1:09 left in the first quarter.

Greendale answered with an 11-play, 80-yard TD drive which tied the game, 7-7, with 9:20 left in the second period. Rutkowski darted around the left end on a sweep for the score. The big plays in the possession were a 19-yard pass from Ringelberg to wideout Mitchell Brees and a 25-yard run by running back Jake Zywicki.

Greendale scored TDs on its next two possessions to build a 21-7 lead in the second quarter. Ringelberg threw a 53-yard strike to the speedy Brees on a fly pattern down the left sideline for a score. On the next series, Rutkowski ripped off a 41-yard run and one play later, Ringelberg hit Brees for a 37-yard TD on another fly pattern down the left sideline.

Undaunted, PHS responded with a 10-play, 74-yard march, climaxed by an 8-yard TD pass from Neils to wide receiver Dominic Bocchini with only 15 seconds left until halftime. Jack Heginbottom added the PAT as the Panthers cut the deficit to 21-14 at halftime and took momentum into the locker room.

Heginbottom suffered a knee injury on his PAT when Greendale was called for a roughing penalty. Heginbottom was helped off the field and didn’t return.

Plymouth kept it going as it received the second-half kickoff and drove 67 yards in 14 plays to the Greendale 14. On third down and 8, Neils was sacked by linebacker Ty Ramirez for a 10-yard loss to the 24. On fourth down, Neils’ pass down the middle to fullback Tyler Willeford was deflected off Willeford and picked off by free safety Nate Miller at the 5.

On the next play, Ringelberg fumbled and Neils, a defensive back, recovered the ball and returned it 38 yards to the Greendale 4. PHS cashed in right away when Trakel plowed through the middle for a TD. The PAT was blocked, leaving PHS trailing only 21-20 with 3:43 remaining in the third quarter.

On its ensuing possession, Greendale rushed for two first downs before the PHS defense stiffened. A 48-yard punt by Greendale was downed at the Panther 2. PHS went three plays and out and had punt from its 5.

Greendale had great field position at the PHS 37 following a 32- yard punt and no return. Greendale took advantage of its scoring opportunity. Ringelberg squirted through the PHS defense and weaved his way 25 yards to the 10. On the next play, Ringelberg sped to the end zone on a keeper right which put the Panthers up 28-20 with 8:43 left in the game.

Plymouth gained one first down on its next series before punting. A fair catch on the punt set Greendale up again in excellent field position at its 48. Ringelberg followed with a 34-yard dash on a keeper to the Panther 18. Three plays later, Ringelberg darted up the middle for a 9-yard score, giving his team a 35-20 cushion at the 3:49 mark.

PHS refused to fold as it scored on its next possession to make it a one-possession contest. On the first play following the kickoff, Bocchini snared a 39-yard pass from Neils to the Greendale 26.

On third and 10 from the 26, Neils threw a 12-yard pass to wideout Justin Picard to the 14. After two quarterback sacks and an incomplete pass, the Panthers faced a fourth and 31.

Incredibly, PHS gained a first down when Neils connected for a 34-yard pass from Cain who made a leaping catch over the middle and then carried tacklers to the 1. On the next play, Neils scored. Jared Weinbauer’s PAT made it 35-27 with 2:16 left.

The Panthers executed an onside kick but Greendale’s Nate Miller recovered the ball at his 48. Greendale sealed the win when Ringelberg raced 53 yards for a TD on a keeper up the middle with 1:12 remaining.

“I just think they made plays and we didn’t defend it well enough,” said Knaus when asked about Greendale’s strong running game in the fourth quarter.

“Hats off to them [PHS] because they had zero quit in them,” said Greendale head coach Rob Stoltz. “They are a very wellcoached team and very tough.

“I’m proud of our guys and the way they stepped up. They continued to make plays and force plays on both sides of the ball despite some adversity.

“We have a lot of playmakers and a lot of speed, and we have some size to go with it. Our offensive line did a pretty incredible job against a very good front,” Stoltz said.

Willeford, a starting inside linebacker, sprained an ankle in the first half and was limited to only playing fullback in the second half.

“Zac Cain had a great game catching the ball. Brad Trakel ran hard,” said Knaus.

“I thought we had a great game plan on offense and the kids executed it very well.”

Knaus shared what he told the team after the game.

“I said that they should be proud of their accomplishments. That is what they will remember from this season, and thank-you for your dedication to the coaches and the program,” he said.

“This senior group has done things that weren’t done before [at PHS]. They won 10 games two years in a row and reached Level 3 two years in a row.”

The only other Plymouth teams to win 10 games in a season were the 1976 and 1978 squads which won state titles and were both 11-0.

PLYMOUTH 27

GREENDALE 41

Ply Gr
First downs.….................23 19
Rushing Yards….............93 330
Passing Yards................295 143
Comp-Att-Int…….....20-35-1 7-12-0
Penalties-Yards.............2-25 6-45
Punts-Averages.............4-39 2-42
Fumbles-Lost……….......1-1 2-1

Score by Quarters

Plymouth….................776727
Greendale...................0 21 0 20 41

Scoring

Ply – Brad Trakel 1 run (Jack Heginbottom kick)

Gr – Frankie Rutkowski 2 run (Rutkowski kick)

Gr – Mitchell Brees 53 pass from Josh Ringelberg (Rutkowski kick)

Gr – Brees 37 pass from Ringelberg (Rutkowski kick)

Ply – Dominic Bocchini 8 pass from Kollin Neils (Heginbottom kick)

Ply – Trakel 4 run (kick blocked)

Gr – Ringelberg 10 run (Rutkowski kick)

Gr – Ringelberg 9 run (Rutkowski kick)

Ply – Neils 1 run (Jared Weinbauer kick)

Gr – Ringelberg 53 run (kick failed)

INDIVIDUAL LEADERS

Rushing – Plymouth, Brad Trakel 23-111. Greendale, Josh Ringelberg 16-181, Frankie Rutkowski 14-98.

Passing – Plymouth, Neils 19-34- 1-253, Trakel 1-1-0-42. Greendale, Ringelberg 7-12-0-143.

Receiving – Plymouth, Zac Cain 8-132, Collin Denzin 3-59, Dominic Bocchini 4-60. Greendale, Mitchell Br es 7-143.


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