The Hilight Zone Week 5: Auburndale survives slug fest, Wittenberg-Birnamwood hangs on at Amherst

Published: Sep. 15, 2023 at 11:07 PM CDT
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AUBURNDALE, Wis. (WSAW) - Week five of the high school football season brought some big-time games, with big-time stakes. Undefeated teams had a chance to clinch postseason berths, while some massive conference match-ups presented opportunities to make a statement.

First in the VFA, the Wausau West Warriors took their undefeated ledger to Marshfield for a date with the Tigers. As they’ve done all season, the Warriors rode Ray Reineck and the ground game, galloping to a 35-0. The shutout from the defense included an interception in the end zone by Marcus Macdonald. With the win, the Warriors clinch a spot in the postseason.

In other Valley action, D.C. Everest had an opportunity to clinch a playoff spot as well, sitting 4-0 and facing 3-1 SPASH, who hadn’t lost since week one. The Panthers kept their win streak alive. SPASH got a monster third-quarter touchdown pass from Grant Chandonais to Ethan Ehlinger to go up 11 points. They’d control the game the rest of the way to win 28-16, handing the Evergreens their first loss of the season. In Wausau, the Lumberjacks of Wausau East got back on the winning track, smashing Appleton West 44-0 at Thom Field.

In our game of the week, a battle of undefeated met in the Marawood as Auburndale hosted Pittsville. Both sides brought their physical style of football, in a game filled with turnovers and penalties. In the end, a Kaden Anderson scramble for a score was the difference-maker as the Eagles hung on to win 12-6, keeping their perfect record alive. Evan Scholl punched in Auburndale’s only other touchdown of the game as the seventh-ranked Eagles secured a playoff berth. After the game, head coach Jay Anderson admitted it could’ve been a cleaner game, but he’s happy with a win.

“Very tough game, obviously it’s a very strong team. They did a great job. Aew too many turnovers on our part, clean it up, thought we moved the ball well,” said Anderson. “We did finish, but yes very excited to be able to get out of here with a win.”

Anderson, whose fourth-quarter touchdown gave Auburdnale a lead, said it was a perfect way to get their Marawood slate started.

“Going into conference, winning our first conference game feels good,” said Anderson. “Wasn’t as pretty as we hoped, but win’s a win. It was rewarding icing it at the end, getting the first down, and kneeling it out.”

Auburndale moves to 5-0 and will face Marathon next week. Pittsville falls for the first time this year, sitting at 4-1, and will host Colby next week.

As for Colby themselves, they put their number six ranking to the test, welcoming in fourth-ranked Edgar. The Wildcats picked up another statement win. Thanks to their suffocating defense and the physical rushing of Karter Butt, Edgar blanked the Hornets 27-0 to win their fourth straight game. The Wildcats have now not allowed a point in three straight games.

In the CWC-Large, Wittenberg-Birnamwood was in search of revenge after falling to Amherst a season ago on a last-second field goal. This time, the ninth-ranked Chargers took to the road to play at Amherst. For the second straight year, the game came down to the final play. With the ball on the Witt-Birn one-yard-line, Amherst was stood up on what would’ve been a go-ahead score. The clock hit zeros, giving Witt-Birn a 27-22 win and with it, a postseason ticket. The Chargers got a solid showing from quarterback Nathan Waupekenay as they keep their spotless record up, moving to 5-0.

In eight-player, seventh-ranked Owen-Withee traveled east for a date with Athens. The Blackhawks delivered on their top-ten ranking. Owen-Withee walloped Athens 49-0. Tim Stick had the first touchdown of the game for the Blackhawks and the rest of the game brought similar production. Owen-Withee improves to 3-1 with the win.

Finally, in a rivalry renewed, the tenth-ranked Rhinelander Hodags met up for their annual duel with Antigo in another playing of the ‘Bell Game.’ The Red Robins already in possession of the bell, opted to keep it another year with a convincing 24-0 shutout of the Hodags. Antigo led 21-0 at half, with their defense keeping up the thumping in the second. Antigo moves to 3-2 with the win.