The reigning undefeated 2020 Regional Champion Ellsworth Panthers travelled to the shores of Lake Michigan to kick off the 2021 season. Competing in WIAA’s Division 2 and the Big Rivers Conference, …
The reigning undefeated 2020 Regional Champion Ellsworth Panthers travelled to the shores of Lake Michigan to kick off the 2021 season. Competing in WIAA’s Division 2 and the Big Rivers Conference, Superior finished the alternate spring season with a 5-1 record.
The Spartans thought they were entering into a classic David vs. Goliath matchup, but the Panthers stormed into town like the gales of November come early.
The story of the first quarter was senior running back Ashten Quade slashing down the field like a hurricane west wind.
The Spartans returned the opening kick and chipped away to the Ellsworth 21-yard line before the Panthers’ defense forced a turnover on downs. Senior quarterback Jack Janke recovered a fumbled snap in the backfield before a swarm of Spartan defenders swallowed him up. On the next play, Janke hit Quade towards midfield and number 34 left the defensive crew in peril to score from 85 yards out. Senior Max Grand punched in the two-point conversion to take an eight-point lead.
On fourth down with seven yards to go, Superior ran a quick punt out of a regular offensive formation after Grand was credited for a tackle for loss of two yards on the previous play.
With just five seconds on the clock to end the first stanza, Quade found the outside and broke loose for a 53-yard touchdown to take a 14-0 lead.
The Spartans tried to put together a drive, but the Panthers refused to make two mistakes in a row. On second and 15, Superior’s quarterback dodged a sack before another Panther defender decleated him, but he was able to get the ball out and completed a pass for 14 yards. On third and short, the Panthers’ defense dominated the line of scrimmage and came up with a sack for a five-yard loss.
Ellsworth got the ball back and Grand wasted no time trying to score his first touchdown of this campaign, taking a carry 40 yards down the sideline before a 23-yard pitch to the end zone was called back for a hold.
Grand was forced to wait after Quade took a handoff to the right, cut back across the middle and broke some tackles for his third score of the night. The clock still read 8:38 in the second quarter when Ellsworth led 20-0.
Superior found the endzone soon after, but so did Grand on a 71-yard scamper to bring the halftime score to 28-7.
Superior tried to right the ship in the third quarter and outscored the visitors 15-14, but it wasn’t enough to overcome the physicality and dominance the Panthers brought to the field.
After Grand punched it in from the two-yard line, junior Sam Kollbaum recovered a fumble at the Superior 25 before a backup offensive group pounded the ball to a first down around the goal line and assembled into victory formation to kneel out the clock on the next three plays.
Ellsworth went on to win 50-22.
The reigning MBC champs will stay on the road for their next two contests, traveling to West Salem this week before beginning their conference slate at Baldwin-Woodville. The West Salem Panthers persuasively defeated Gale-Ettrick-Trempealeau 48-0 to begin their season.