PHS faces Kewaskum in key ECC battle

by Greg Ceilley
of The Review staff

DEREK NOVOTNY, Plymouth tailback shown running against Winneconne in a Sept. 23 football game, is the Panthers’ top rusher this season. Cody Kuhn lead blocks for Novotny. – Review file photo DEREK NOVOTNY, Plymouth tailback shown running against Winneconne in a Sept. 23 football game, is the Panthers’ top rusher this season. Cody Kuhn lead blocks for Novotny. – Review file photo PLYMOUTH – The Plymouth Panthers and the Kewaskum Indians have had a great football rivalry over the past decade. Another chapter in this rivalry will be added this Friday night when these teams meet in a key conference battle as they have many times in recent history.

“We have had many big battles with conference championships riding on the game many times over my 10 years. It’s always a good matchup,” said Panther head coach Dan Knaus who is in his 10th season at the helm.

PHS leads the East Central Conference race with a 5-0 record (6-1 overall). Kewaskum (6-1 overall), the defending ECC champion, and Berlin share second place at 4-1. Kewaskum lost to Berlin, 17-14, and Plymouth routed Berlin, 28-0.

Kickoff for Plymouth’s Homecoming game is set for 7 p.m. at Finke Field. A win by the Panthers would clinch at least a share of the ECC title.

“On paper it looks to be a very good match-up. Statistically, they have the rushing edge and we have the passing edge,” said Indian head coach Jason Piittmann.

“Well, we like a more balanced attack on offense while they seem to want to pass it a bit more then us,” said Knaus.

“They are very physical as usual and are well-coached. They have played very well on special teams this year as well.”

Kewaskum senior quarterback Dalton Pool leads the ECC in passing yardage with 968 and touchdown passes with nine. He has a league-best 57.5 completion percentage.

The Indians have the league’s top receiver in junior wideout Anthony Steger who is first in receptions with 25, receiving yardage with 409 and TD catches, six.

PHS has three players who rank in the top 10 in the ECC in rushing. Junior tailback Derek Novotny is fourth with 402 yards, followed by senior wide receiver/running back Cody Kuhn with 389 and in ninth, senior quarterback Gavin Falk with 261.

Indian junior running back Cole Surprenant ranks third in rushing with 437 yards.

Knaus and Piittmann pointed out what they feel will be the keys to deciding the game.

“Turnovers, controlling the tempo of the game and special teams,” offered the PHS coach.

“Weather could be a factor,” said Piittmann. “Field conditions – related to weather or just the fact that we’ve had a wet fall. Turnovers and execution at key times.”

Each coach mentioned what will be crucial for his team to win.

“We must control both lines of scrimmage and keep them guessing on offense with our [defensive] fronts,” said Knaus.

“Ball possession. Being balanced. Sound tackling. Limiting big plays,” said Piittmann.

The Kewaskum coach is very impressed with the PHS team.

“They are very good. They have size. They always have speed. Their offense is always diverse and their kids are always so fundamentally sound,” said Piittmann.

“I know it was earlier in the season but the way they handled Berlin scares me. They are always so wellcoached, so well-prepared.”

Knaus explained why his team has played so well thus far this season.

“We have played solid defense, created turnovers and defended the run well. On offense we have been versatile and balanced, and the line has played well,” he noted.

PHS has allowed only 34 points on defense while its offense is averaging an impressive 32.6 per game in ECC play.

Knaus said the team is healthy for the game and everyone will suit up.

Kewaskum lost several key seniors off last year’s team and came into this season with a lot of inexperience.

“We are finding out a little bit more about our team week-byweek. We came in pretty inexperienced and we’ve been coming together and finding ways to be successful most of the time,” said the Indian coach.

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