Levi Wolf and Jed Schlegel grew up seven miles away from each other as conference rivals.
Wolf, a former Elmwood athlete, and Schlegel, a former Spring Valley athlete, teamed up to give UW-Stout seven points in its game against UW-Platteville on Saturday, Oct. 1. The two defensive backs now play for the Blue Devils and are situated on both ends of the punt return team.
Against the Pioneers, Wolf waltzed his way through the punter's shield and blocked a punt in the third quarter near midfield. Schlegel scooped it up and ran it back 47 yards to give UW-Stout a 24-14 lead with 1 minute, 33 seconds remaining in the second quarter.
"They let me through and I just stuck my hands out and the next thing I knew Jed had the ball and he was gone," said Wolf, a junior starting safety. "I've never been part of a play like that. It was awesome."
The Blue Devils called an all-out punt block and the edge rushers teamed up to seize the desired momentum.
"He did all the work," Schlegel said. "I didn't get a good jump on the snap, so I was going to just secure the punt to make sure he kicked it and then peel back to go block.
"Then I heard it get blocked and it was right at my feet, so I just picked it up and ran."
Stout would go on to lose to the Pioneers, 34-27, but the moment was a highlight in a season that includes knocking off No. 3-ranked St. Thomas, 25-22.
"It's always good to have our local kids making plays," head coach Clayt Birmingham said. "When we can have success with kids right in our own backyard, that's a great feeling."
Senior linebacker Nick Schulenburg — who shares captains' duties with former-Spring Valley athlete Troy Rudesill and two other seniors — said plays like these are part of why it feels like the Blue Devils are in the midst of a special season.
The victory over St. Thomas moved the Blue Devils to No. 22 in the nation. When Stout fell to UW-Whitewater on Oct. 7, it had been ranked No. 23 in the nation.
"It was a little surreal," said Schulenburg of the victory over St. Thomas. "We knew we had a good game plan going in. We had a good week of practice and we knew we weren't far behind them. Then a few things started going our way."
Making those plays with a greater frequency is how Birmingham hopes the Blue Devils will begin to approach the upper-tier of the Wisconsin Intercollegiate Athletic Conference.
Wolf is second on the team with 25 tackles and has two of the team's three interceptions.
"We've always had good players around here and now we have guys that have tasted some victories and they know they could have won that Platteville game," Birmingham said. "To get that feeling and that taste, you can't practice it, you have to be in those situations and experience things going your way."