Week one was all about learning for the Elmwood-Plum City Wolves. They remained close with Pepin-Alma but lost poise and couldn’t quite regain it. The Eagles used big runs to their advantage in a 42-12 win Friday evening in Plum City.
EPC head coach Mike Birtzer said he felt the players got a little nervous by having the big plays against them. It was a matter of being able to consistently be in position for the “three plays” the Eagles usually run.
“When things are going wrong, you start to lose your composure and it gets worse,” Birtzer said. “We had some breakdowns and they turned into big plays for them. We knew what they were going to run, but we couldn't stop what they were going to run.”
Birtzer added that part of learning how to deal with games like this is knowing that getting away from what their plan is and not executing it only compounds the problem. The lead just gets wider from there.
Apart from the big plays against the Wolves, several younger EPC players were able to make an impact offensively. Sophomore Blake Allen provided a bulk of the yards on the ground and looked determined doing so. Allen frequently gained two to three more yards by shedding the first contact.
Junior Ambrose Malles snuck through a block for the Wolves’ second touchdown of the game late in the fourth quarter.
“In the second half, can we get some of these guys on film?” Birtzer asked his coaches. “Those guys showed up. Now we have to put them in the right spots. Our big thing right now is looking at our personnel decisions.”
Pepin-Alma came out with touchdowns on its first two drives, yet only led the Wolves 16-0 after one quarter and 16-6 with 6:33 left in the first half. From there, the Eagles ran away with the game.
The Eagles capitalized on a fourth-down pass to Apollo Bergmann for their first score. They had penalties or stops by the Wolves defense that backed them up, yet seemingly got the huge play when they needed it.
“Can't give up big plays like that because they are back-breakers,” Birtzer said. “Then the morale goes down. When you give big plays like that in crucial situations like that, what you see then is our heads are down. Our spirit is down, then they punch it in.”
On the other side of the ball, the Wolves did not get the big play. They were able to gain plenty of yards but had too many drives stall out once inside the Eagle’s 30-yard line.
Elmwood-Plum City next faces another tough, non-conference opponent in Blair-Taylor next week. Both teams will be looking to get on track as the Wildcats lost 40-7 to Luther on Friday.