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Football: Prescott’s pride consolatory silver lining

Prescott co-captain Carson Stenroos lifts up teammate Lane Budworth after the junior quarterback throws an interception in Prescott's 48-7, Friday, Sept. 14, loss to the New Richmond Tigers. Katie Davidson / RiverTown Multimedia1 / 3
“You just have to have short memory,” Riley Anfinson said after Prescott's fifth loss of the season. “That’s all you can do. If you get down, everyone is going to get down, and it’s just going to lead to a downward spiral.” Katie Davidson / RiverTown Multimedia2 / 3
“At this point, it’s just a matter of pride,” Prescott senior Matthew Langer said following his team’s Friday, Sept. 14, loss. “We represent Prescott, so we have to have a positive attitude every game until the clock hits zero." Katie Davidson / RiverTown Multimedia3 / 3

Commending the pride and character of Prescott’s football team has become a weekly cliché in the Cardinals’ winless season.

No Prescott coach, player or fan wanted to solely praise the Cardinals (0-5) for holding their heads high at the conclusion of Week 5; rather, they hoped to celebrate the end of their losing streak as Jason Canfield’s pep band played “Illinois Loyalty” in the background.

But when the New Richmond Tigers claimed a 42-7 lead at the conclusion of the third quarter of the Friday, Sept. 14, Middle Border Conference game, the Cardinals’ only solace was their ability to lean on their infallible pride to defeat the frustration of a forthcoming continuation of their defeated season.

The Tigers earned their first win of the season with a 48-7 victory over the Cardinals whose positivity seemed to be the only thing that didn’t fail in the Friday night game.

The Tigers took a 7-0 lead with 7:59 left on the clock in the first quarter after Joe Powers found the paydirt for the first time with a 5-yard carry, and capitalized on another short-field drive three minutes and 14 seconds later, this time scoring on a 21-yard touchdown run from Talon Seckora.

The Cardinals responded with a 25-yard carry from junior Riley Anfinson, which led to a 37-yard touchdown reception completed by Carson Stenroos from Lane Budworth, but the Cardinals’ short highlight reel would soon come to a end with 2:14 left in the first quarter.

Eleven seconds after Stenroos’ touchdown reception, the Tigers expanded their lead to 21-7 with a 65-yard touchdown pass caught by Drew Momchilovich that featured one of many missed tackles by the Cardinals.

On Prescott’s following drive, the Cardinals got three plays in before fumbling on their own 42-yard line on fourth-and-one, which led to Powers’ second touchdown of the night on a 31-yard carry.

After two consecutive Prescott three-and-out series, the Tigers struck again with another long touchdown pass to take a 35-7 lead before the conclusion of the first half, and the 20-minute break didn’t provide the Cardinals with much relief.

The Cardinals slipped on their kick return to start at their own 20-yard line in the beginning of the third quarter and eventually turned the ball over on an interception picked off by Braeden Gefeke.

Stenroos and Anthony Engler provided the Cardinal fans with some reason to cheer by recovering New Richmond fumbles in the final half of play, but the Tigers took advantage of Prescott’s failure to cover their slant routes and found the endzone two more times before leaving the Cardinals with their fifth loss of the season.

And it’s nothing but an uphill battle from here for Prescott.

The Cardinals will have to win their final four games — including a Week 7 game against the undefeated St. Croix Central Panthers — in order to fulfill their goal of breaking into the playoffs for the first time since 2013.

“After the game I just said we have to get a lot better,” Prescott’s head coach Kevin Haglund said. “It’s no longer enough to just show up and play. We can’t be 11 individuals. We need to show up, do what our coaches are telling us to do and then do it with pride.”

Yet, when Haglund’s Cardinals suffered from misalignment and misassignment, despite a hard effort, the second-year coach still found some consolation in his team’s loss.

“For Riley (Anfinson) and Matthew (Langer), their heart is our silver lining,” Haglund said. “Those two really do want it.”

“At this point, it’s just a matter of pride,” senior Langer said following his team’s loss.

“We represent Prescott, so we have to have a positive attitude every game until the clock hits zero.

“I know on a couple of those plays, I screwed up badly and misread the coverage, but I just have to let it go, because if I get down, that’s no good for my team.”

“You just have to have short memory,” Anfinson said. “That’s all you can do. If you get down, everyone is going to get down, and it’s just going to lead to a downward spiral.”

Still out of breath 15 minutes after his team’s fifth loss of the season, Anfinson held back his emotions, put a smile on and shared his steadfast belief in his team.

“This one hurt,” Anfinson said, “but I think this will make us want it even more next week. We’re so hungry for a win, and I’m expecting us to get it next week.”

Prescott’s pride remains unquestioned, but Anfinson and the Cardinals hope to be praised for more than their positive attitudes after Week 6.

The Cardinals will travel to Osceola (1-4)  on Friday, Sept. 21, for another 7 p.m. Middle Border Conference face-off.

OTHER PIERCE COUNTY SCORES:

Elmwood/Plum City 44, Pepin/Alma 36 (OT)

Somerset 44, Ellsworth 16

Spring Valley 26, Glenwood City 16