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A Stunning Win For The Jacks To Start The Season

by Tom King

The Wausau East Lumberjack football program was coming off a 1 win season going into last night's opener with Wisconsin Rapids. They were playing a Wisconsin Rapids team that scored over 40 points against East last year. And they were breaking in a new QB plus an entirely new offensive line. Oh, and by the way, they were also being run by a new head coach...the 4th in the last five years. But all of that was put in the rear view mirror after a stunning second half comeback and a thrilling 19-13 win at Thom Field. New coach Tom Tourtillot's debut was a success despite some stumbles in a scoreless first half. East had a couple of chances on short fields and couldnt move the football. The kicking game struggled all night but the defense kept them in the game. Rapids scored first after a long pass set them up inside the 1. But that was all Rapids could muster until the 4th quarter. Meanwhile new QB Kyle Daniel settled down and played very well in the second half completing 7-9 passes and avoiding big sacks with some nimble footwork. And they got the ground game going as Brennan Becker and Isaac Stine combined for 128 yds in the second half and 185 for the game. The big run was a 61 yard scamper up the middle untouched for a score by Becker with 6:50 to play. It tied the game at 13 but the extra point was missed and it looked like overtime might be looming. But the Lumberjack defense got a stop and the East offense was able to move the ball but faced a 4th down and long at the Rapids 23 yard line with under a minute to play. Daniel heaved up a Hail Mary pass toward the end zone and Tim Nass was able to come down with it on the 1 as he was draped by two Rapids defenders. A few seconds later and Becker pounded into the end zone for his 3rd TD of the game and East had the lead and the game matching their win total from all of last year.

Some thoughts from this one

# Kyle Daniel looked good after getting rid of his jitters. He threw the ball hard and on target...and he was able to avoid the rush on more than a few occasions.

#My apologies to Tim Nass for calling the wrong name on the Hail Mary Play that set up the TD. We couldnt see who made the catch and my spotter thought it was Brennan Becker. Nass went up between two defenders and came down with it.

# the two headed rushing beast of Becker/Stine will do some damage this year

#after struggling to control the line of scrimmage in the first half the O-line played much better

# A large number of penalties was a concern but that should get cleaned up as we go forward

# the defense was very good...I can see why he's going with a 3-4 defense with a very talented group of linebackers.

# The Lumberjacks recovered a fumble, blocked a punt and extra point and got an interception that iced the game.

# you could see the energy of the coaching staff translate to the players

# the kicking game needs some work...alot of missed kicks or this game would have been over earlier.

# After the game the team gathered in front of their fans and the school song was played which I'm told will become a tradition.

# also after the game the team shed their shoulder pads and gathered in a circle for stretching and cool-down excercise...I don't think I've ever seen that in my 20 plus years of covering games

# the press box at Thom Field continues to be one of the worst. I spent most of the night listening to the Rapids coaches yell into their head sets that they couldnt hear the sideline.

# I have a good feeling about the hiring of Tom Tourtillot and his ability to change the direction of this program.