Ground attack keys Panthers’ playoff win

by Greg Ceilley
of The Review staff


DEREK NOVOTNY of Plymouth tackles Greendale’s Zach Harrison on a sweep in Friday’s football playoff opener. Greendale’s Kyle Weinkauf tries to block Novotny. – Review photo by Greg Ceilley DEREK NOVOTNY of Plymouth tackles Greendale’s Zach Harrison on a sweep in Friday’s football playoff opener. Greendale’s Kyle Weinkauf tries to block Novotny. – Review photo by Greg Ceilley PLYMOUTH – The Plymouth Panthers’ ground game, led by the 1-2 punch from Cody Kuhn and Derek Novotny, fueled a 31-7 trouncing of Greendale in the first round (Level 1) of the Division 3 state football playoffs Friday night at Finke Field.

Plymouth’s game plan coming in was to control the ball with the running attack and keep Greendale’s explosive offense off the field as much as possible. The Panthers executed their plan pretty well as they racked up 326 yards rushing and gained 18 first downs.

Running backs Kuhn and Novotny carved up Greendale’s defense for 148 and 142 yards, respectively. Kudos to Plymouth’s offensive line, receivers and backs for outstanding blocking.

The PHS defense also played a big role in the outcome as it came up with a season-high six interceptions, led by safety Gavin Falk with two.

The Panthers, 8-2, move on to the second round (Level 2) Friday at East Central Conference rival Kewaskum at 7 p.m. The Indians defeated PHS, 10-7, on Oct. 7.

Greendale ended its season with a 7-3 mark.

The turning point in the game was probably early in the first quarter when Kuhn ripped off a 65-yard touchdown run on the Panthers’ first play from scrimmage which tied the game, 7-7.

Greendale scored on the game’s first possession to go up 7-0 when quarterback Clay Kujawa threw a 17-yard pass to wide receiver Zach Harrison. Kujawa was 4-for-4 passing for 79 yards in the TD drive, including a 43-yard strike to Isaac Seibold to the PHS 17-yard line.

The Panthers took a 14-7 lead on fullback Erik Ohman’s 1-yard scoring plunge with 11:35 left in the second period. The TD climaxed a nine-play, 77-yard drive. The key play in the series was a 36-yard pass from wideout Cade Knaus to quarterback Falk off a reverse.

“I’m proud of the whole team – offense and defense. This was our most complete game of the year,” said PHS head coach Dan Knaus.

“This game was won on the front [offensive] line. We had sustained drives. Cody had the big runs but Derek ran so hard.

“In the first half our defense bent but didn’t break. In the second half our defense played better. We tightened up our [pass] coverages and had help over the top with our safeties,” said coach Knaus.

“After that first touchdown we were kind of back on our heels. Our one-play drive [Kuhn’s 65- yard TD run] gave us some energy and we kept going and never looked back,” said PHS senior lineman Derek Schweiger.

“We played well – redemption next week [versus Kewaskum],” said Schweiger.

“We just pounded the ball down their throats,” said Falk. “Our offensive line did a great job. We played as a team.”


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