The Mercer-Butternut football team played its third game of the season against the Washburn-Bayfield co-op team. The Pioneers came away with their first win of the season — a 26-24 victory.
“It’s big for our team, our mentality, our growth,” coach Matt Schoeneman said. “Being 0-2 — it’s a challenge. We reset as a team, looking in the mirror and we were able to come out and get a W.”
The rushing attack for the Pioneers was potent right away. Kobe Hiller ran for a 10-yard scramble to start their first drive.
Then it was Jordan Ahlborn making one of his few catches of the day for a 10-yard catch. Hiller continued to run the ball well and had 20 more yards on a touchdown run.
Baylie Huybrecht ran it in for the two-point conversion and the Pioneers led 8-0.
Washburn had a good drive down the field. Running back Carlos Rosales was a force all game and was picking up chunks of yardage. Joe Laudolff and Devin Losh came up with a big tackle during the drive.
“It was our team. Our team was able to gang tackle and wear (Rosales) down,” Schoeneman said.
Eventually the drive fizzled out and the Pioneers had the ball back.
Hiller continued to run well and had more big runs of ten-plus yards. Jacob Schmidt was the other back who ran well.
“It was good to see a lot of people get involved,” Schoeneman said. “It was good to see our offensive line do some good work.”
Schmidt scored a touchdown on a broken tackle. The two-point conversion was no good and the Pioneers led 14-0.
Washburn responded quickly with a touchdown of their own. It was Rosales who ran it in for a touchdown. The two-point conversion was good and the lead was trimmed to 14-8.
Late in the first half, the Pioneers had one more drive in them. After a penalty on Washburn, Hiller caught a touchdown pass from Baylie Huybrecht with under a minute to go in the first half.
The two-point conversion was no good and the Pioneers led 20-8.
Hiller played big on defense too. He intercepted a pass on the last play of the first half.
Running for Washburn, Rosales continued to be a force. He scored from 23 yards out as well as the two-point conversion. The Pioneers still led 20-16.
After a Pioneer punt, Rosales and other running back Tony Richardson, powered Washburn down the field once more. Rosales finished it off with another touchdown, his third of the day.
“(Rosales) is a good representation of that team,” Schoeneman said.
The two point conversion was good again and Washburn took their first lead 24-20.
The Pioneer defense was on the field yet again in the fourth quarter. This time, they won the battle with Rosales and forced a fumble that the Pioneers recovered.
Pioneer quarterback Baylie Huybrecht led the team down the field with a couple of good runs down by four points.
Now in the red zone, Schmidt ran it in for a touchdown run. Again the two-point conversion was no good, but the Pioneers had a 26-24 lead.
With seven minutes to go, the Pioneer defense forced a punt of Washburn. That would be the last time Washburn had the ball.
The Pioneers’ offense proved to be the difference as they led a clock-ending drive down the field, highlighted by runs from Hiller
They took a knee and the game was over. The Pioneers hung on to victory, their first of the season.
“It was unbelievable,” Schoeneman said. “To knee it on the ten, it’s a thing of respect between two teams. When we practice victory, (our kids) get excited.”
The Pioneers’ next game comes Friday, Sept. 13 at Siren High School starting at 7 p.m.
Brett LaBore may be reached at [email protected] or [email protected]