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Mistakes negate EPC's effort against No. 10 Spring Valley

Spring Valley's Jed Schlegel (6) looks to break to the outside as teammate Nic Kalmes (51) tries to make a block on Elmwood/Plum City's Anthony Ebensperger (9).1 / 7
EPC quarterback Levi Wolf rolls out away from the line of scrimmage.2 / 7
Spring Valley's Logan Newton has an opening to run through on a punt return.3 / 7
Spring Valley's Matt Fesenmaier is running some tough yards while getting a block from teammate Devin Larson (10)4 / 7
Spring Valley quarterback Remington Schneider (8) looks for an open receiver while gettting a block from Nick Kalmes (51).5 / 7
Spring Valley sideline meeting with head coach Ryan Kapping in spite of the rain6 / 7
EPC's Levi Wolf hands the ball off to a determined Ryan Asher.7 / 7

SPRING VALLEY - Being physically tough in the game football is one thing. Elmwood/Plum City prep football head coach Jerry Hannack was certainly pleased with the physical effort EPC came with against non-conference rival Spring Valley Friday evening at a rain soaked and waterlogged Syverson Park.

Unfortunately for the Wolves physical toughness was not met with matching funds in mental toughness and discipline. The end result was 20-6 loss at the hands of the No. 10 ranked Cardinals.

“You got to have both to win,” Hannack said. “You can’t give a team as good as they are second and third chances to beat you.”

Such chances would include a fumble on a punt return which helped to put SV in front 12-0 early in the second quarter. Valley methodically scored on its first drive in the first quarter, capped off by quarterback Remington Schneider’s 14-yard TD run. Before EPC could get the ball back to counter with its second drive of the ballgame, SV was set up again with great field position thanks to the fumble recovery. It capped its second scoring drive early in the second quarter with Schneider’s quarterback sneak for a touchdown.

Although Valley didn’t use quite as many running backs as last week, it still presented multiple carriers of the ball. The Cardinals rushed for 231 yards led by Schneider’s nine carries for 42 yards; Matt Fesenmaier’s 16 carries for 63 yards;  Jed Schlegel’s 48 yards on 12 carries and Jake Rielly’s 60 yards on eight carries.

“We feel we have four to five backs who we feel can share the load when it comes to running the ball and can get the job done,” SV head coach Ryan Kapping said.

Spring Valley should have gotten the job done early on against EPC as the Cardinal defense was in control for much of the ballgame. But mistakes on their part on offense, including several offsides penalties, sabotaged drives and gave EPC a chance if they could just make a game-changing play. Valley was also fortunate several fumbles it had at the line of scrimmage and on punt returns weren’t recovered by the visitors.

“A reason why we couldn’t get the ball when it was on the ground was their control of the line of scrimmage,” Hannack said.

Still, EPC was able to get the big play they were looking for in late in the third quarter. After Spring Valley’s Devin Larson put on a nasty hit and tackle on an EPC running back in the backfield, the Wolves faced a 4th and 12 situation from Valley’s 39 yard line. Quarterback Levi Wolf connected with Alex Boyer on beautiful leaping catch between two defenders to set-up Elmwood/Plum City at the Cardinal four-yard line. Wolf scored from one-yard away two plays later and it was 12-6.

Unfortunately this game-changer was only for the moment. The real critical play of the ballgame came when Schneider touched a bouncing punt that he had to gather up at the Cards’ 30-yard line. However, he was able to break containment and return the ball all the way to the EPC 13 where Fesenmaier capped the short scoring drive with a one-yard TD run to put the home team ahead 20-6.

The special teams disaster continued for EPC when, with 3:00 left to go, they fumbled another punt return which the Cardinals recovered. SV ran out the clock and improved to 2-0 while EPC fell to 1-1.

EPC was able to rush for over 100 years led by Wolf’s 69 yards on 13 attempts. Ryan Asher finished with 34 yards on 10 carries. But the Wolves had just one completed pass all evening and had interception as well.

Although a loss, the effort EPC put into the game made up for the 40-0 debacle the last time the two teams played

“I’m proud of way the kids’ determination but we have to combine it with sound play or we won’t keep improving,” Hannack said.   

Likewise, Kapping feels the Cardinals have a lot to improve upon as well after avoiding several potential disasters.

“It’s fortunate our best football is still ahead of us because we have a lot to work on,” Kapping said. “Our effort and intensity and mental approach have to be more consistent.”

Fesenmaier led SV in tackles with 18 (eight solos, 10 assists) while Schlegel finished with eight. Schlegel also had an interception.

Spring Valley will again be at home next Friday when they play their Dunn-St. Croix Conference opener vs. Elk Mound. Elmwood/Plum City will be at Shell Lake.