St. Croix Central football makes the big plays, advances to WIAA Division 4 state semifinals
For the third straight season, the St. Croix Central football team has advanced to the WIAA state semifinals.
And the Panthers are hoping, that for the third straight year, it propels them into the Division 4 state championship game.
Central and Northwestern met Friday night in a clash of the titans, two undefeated teams with high hopes for the season. It was Central that made the most of its chances, limiting Northwestern to a pair of field goals as Central won 21-6. The win raises Central’s season record to 12-0.
Central will face Little Chute in the state semifinals next Friday. It was announced early Saturday morning that next Friday's game will be played at Stanley-Boyd.
Big offensive plays and big defensive stands decided Friday’s game. It was Northwestern that produced the first big play of the game when Reagan Ruffi broke away for a 67-yard run to the Panther 2-yard line. Central then came up with a huge defensive stand, stopping three Tiger pushes toward the goal line. Northwestern kicked a field goal to lead 3-0 with 7:35 left in the first quarter.
Central senior Derek Myer was involved in two key plays during the second quarter. The first was a 59-yard punt that helped the Panthers get out of bad field position. It was announced earlier this week that Myer is one of the five finalists for the Kevin Stemke Award, given to the top senior punter in Wisconsin each high school season.
Myer’s second big play produced the game’s first touchdown. Myer was running a fly pattern down the Panther sideline. Northwestern defensive back Sam Risley got his hands on the ball first. Almost instantaneously, Myer snatched the ball from between Risley’s hands. He remained in stride and was able to race down the sideline for a 60-yard touchdown.
Myer said after the game that his first instinct on the play was to prevent the interception.
“My mindset was to play defense,” he said. He said his second concern was to not step out of bounds once he controlled the catch.
Northwestern added another field goal on the final play of the first half, making the score 7-6.
Northwestern opened the second half with another drive, but again the Central defense stood its ground. This time, Northwestern missed on a 30-yard field goal attempt.
Not giving up the lead seemed to inspire the Panthers. Five plays later, SCC fullback Ryan Larson spun off a tackle in the middle of the line and raced downfield for a 59-yard touchdown that extended Central’s lead to 14-6.
Central’s defense reined in Northwestern’s offense for much of the game. Larson added the capper, a 25-yard touchdown with 2:08 left in the game.
Larson again was the leader of the Panther ball-control offense. He carried the ball 11 times for 130 yards. He also caught one pass that covered 47 yards.