Ryan Rogers dashes through a gap in the line on his way for a big gain during the Wykons’ win at Houghton Sept. 27. Closest to the gap are Max Maloney and Zane Sarafiny (75).
HOUGHTON—Beyond halfway of the 2013 football season, West Iron County is chugging along towards the playoffs at full throttle.
Five games, five wins, the last three on the road.
Win No. 5 was an effective, efficient 41-12 win over Houghton here Sept. 27, with the Blue and White controlling the Gremlins on both sides of the line. Houghton’s only points came on a kickoff return and a running-time no-huddle drive against the reserves.
West Iron’s offense took a while to get up to speed in the first quarter—their first two drives only earned one first down and no points. Coach Mike Berutti said the Gremlin defense lined up differently from what they had expected.
“It took two series to figure out how they were playing that defensive line.”
Once they did, WIC’s fullbacks’ target was between tackle and guard instead of a trap up the middle. Things started clicking right away.
Except for QB Andrew Peterson’s 34-yard pass to Ryan Rogers, the Wykons’ first scoring drive was all on the ground. Alec Schmelebeck bulled and bowled past tacklers for a 15-yard gain to the 23. Four plays later, Peterson ran it over from the 5, capping a 69-yard drive. Wykons, 6-0.
Their next drive covered 80 yards in six plays. Chasz Jonet gained 13 yards over the right side, and Schmelebeck followed with a 37-yard sweep to the Gremlin 25. Schmelebeck scored from 10 yards out, and Jonet’s two-point run put WIC ahead 14-0.
Houghton quickly had to punt, and the Wykons took over near midfield. Not that they stayed there long--Jonet’s 11-yard run and Peterson’s 29-yard pass to Rogers at the 9 gave WIC 1st and goal. After a false start penalty set them back, Peterson took the snap and the initiative, following his blockers through the left side a 14-yard score. 20-0.
Two plays later, Nick Helgemo intercepted a Gremlin pass, and the Wykons were in Houghton territory again. On 2nd and 3, Rogers ran a counter play to the left and was gone for a 39-yard score. Peterson’s run made it 28-0.
When Thomas Schmidt bobbled the ensuing kickoff, Houghton fans must have grimaced. Seconds later, they were jubilant—the hard-charging Wykon kick team seemed to slow a bit, Schmidt tucked the ball away, dashed past the first wave and suddenly had open field for an 81-yard TD return. Houghton was on the board, 28-6.
A momentum-killer? Nope! The Wykons answered with another 80-yard touchdown drive. Highlights were Peterson’s 21-yard pass to Schmelebeck and consecutive Schmelebeck gains of 17 and 13 yards. The burly junior wasn’t too tired to score from the 4, and Rogers’ kick put the Wykons ahead 35-6 at halftime.
If you missed that 80-yard scoring dirve, West Iron started the second half with another one. Along the way, Helgemo ran for 15, Schmelebeck added 20 and caught a Peterson pass for 17 more. Jonet scored from 5 yards out. The 41-6 score started the running clock halfway through the third quarter.
Later, the Wykon reserves drove all the way to the Gremlin 2 but lost the ball on downs. Using a no-huddle offense as the time ticked away, Houghton drove 98 yards to score on QB Ben Collaer’s 5-yard pass to Justin Ruotsala with 2 seconds left.
But in the first three quarters, the Wykon defense only allowed 26 yards rushing and 44 yards passing (33 of them on a single play). The week before, Berutti noted, Collaer ran for 130 yards vs. Calumet.
“We held him to 12 carries for 43 yards.” Houghton tried its hardest to make an option play work, but the Wykons never got beat to the sidelines. “Our kids knew their responsibilities and executed them real well.”
With Joe Pisoni and Ron Varney missing the game due to ankle injuries, the Wykons inserted Brandon Olson and Helgemo on defenses. “It’s going to make us a better team down the road, and it’s going to make those guys healthy for this stretch we have coming up.”
As for the offense, “Our line came off the football, and our backs ran hard and broke tackles. They did it the way they should.”
Team stats: WIC, 489 total yards (50-384 rushing, 4-8-105 passing), Houghton 171 total yards (21-74 rushing, 7-20-97 passing). First downs: WIC 21, Houghton 9.
Individual stats: Rushing: Alec Schmelebeck, 17-161; Chasz Jonet, 12-72; Ryan Rogers, 3-52; Nick Helgemo, 7-43. Passing: Andrew Peterson, 4-8-105. Receiving: Rogers, 2-64; Schmelebeck, 2-39.
Defense (tackles-assists): Helgemo, 4-2; Schmelebeck, 4-0; Michael Barker, 4-0; Bryson Heimerl, 3-0. Fumble recovery: Rogers. Interception: Helgemo.
• The Wykons’ three-week road tour is over. They bring a perfect record back home to Nelson Field Oct. 4 against Calumet, which is searching for its first win. Hancock defeated the injury-wracked Copper Kings 8-0 on Sept. 27.
Wykons 6 29 6 0 -- 41
Gremlins 0 6 0 6 -- 12