Falcons’ Jaden Jackson, shown here in the team’s 21-17 win against Elkhorn, helped Westosha Central to a 21-20 victory at Union Grove Friday (Earlene Frederick/The Report).

Falcons off to best start since 2000

By Jason Arndt

Jaden Jackson did it again for Westosha Central High School on Friday.

A week earlier, in the Falcons’ 21-17 win against visiting Elkhorn, Jackson threw the decisive score to Myles Kazumura with 36 seconds left.

This week, however, came with 11.8 seconds left of regulation, finding Nick Frederick to pull the Falcons’ within one point of host Union Grove at 20-19.

Jackson, who completed 15 of 30 passes for 139 yards, had three touchdowns.

After the touchdown, Falcons coach Tyson Mengel opted for a 2-point attempt, which junior Niko Lemke successfully converted to give Westosha Central a 21-20 victory.

Jackson, meanwhile, stayed composed and determined to give the Falcons an opportunity for the win.

“I haven’t been nervous lately, I have just been excited and confident in all of my teammates,” Jackson said. “I hate losing, I hate losing, I just want to win.”

According to Mengel, whose team starts the season 4-0 for the first time since 2000, he acknowledged the Southern Lakes Conference clash could come down to the wire.

“We know that we are not going to blow teams out, we are going to fight to the finish almost every week,” Mengel said.

Frederick, the Falcons’ leading receiver with eight catches for 61 yards, saw it as redemption after he fumbled the ball about a minute earlier.

“I knew I had to redeem myself, so when that ball was in the air, there was no way I was going to drop it and let my team down again,” Frederick said.

Regardless, Jackson still had confidence in his receiver, stating Frederick did what needed to get done.

“I am just glad he got the ball, I am just glad that we won the game,” Jackson said. “I love Freddy, he is just going to keep chugging through.”

Late turbulence
The win, however, came with hiccups in the last three minutes of the contest.

Down 20-13, the Falcons marched downfield to the Broncos’ 38-yard line, but saw the drive end after Frederick fumbled to give Union Grove possession.

The Broncos, who took the ball downfield to the red zone, saw it negated with a personal foul and offensive pass interference to push them back to their own 39-yard line.

From there, the Broncos were forced to punt, which saw a botched snap fly over the head of punter Alex Rewolinski and recovered by Westosha Central at the 13-yard line.

Union Grove coach Craig McClelland attributed the loss to mental miscues, including missed opportunities earlier in the game.

“We were inside the red zone two or three times, we just weren’t smart inside the red zone,” he said.

Eventually, the Falcons moved up to the 8-yard line, where Jackson made the decisive throw.

Jackson, rolling to his right, then found Frederick for the 8-yard touchdown to give Westosha Central an opportunity to go for a 2-point conversion.

Entering the last drive, Jackson believed the team could prevail, Frederick said.

“He knew we were going to win, he made sure we were focused and ready to go,” Frederick said.

Lemke, who rushed for a team-leading 78 yards on 14 carries, then made an inside push to give them the victory.

Back and forth
After a scoreless first quarter, the Broncos struck first, courtesy of a Jacob Ross 7-yard touchdown, his first of two in the contest.

The Jackson and Frederick duo, however, responded with a 19-yard connection to diminish the Broncos’ lead to 7-6 after Westosha Central missed the PAT.

Broncos’ quarterback Alec Spang, who completed 18 of 28 passes for a game-high 209 yards, threw a 14-yard touchdown to Alex Rewolinsk to reclaim the lead at 13-7.

Jackson answered, finding Jared Gehrke for a 14-yard touchdown of his own, which sent the contest into halftime with a 13-13 deadlock.

In the third quarter, Jacob Ross, who rushed for a game-high 95 yards on 16 carries, gave the Broncos a 20-13 edge entering the fourth quarter.

The Broncos balanced attack, Frederick said, was a challenge.

“Union Grove played well, they battled, they definitely stayed in the game with their speed and their runs,” Frederick said.

The Broncos lead was negated, courtesy of penalties and a strong Falcons defense, which led to Westosha Central’s game-winning score.

As the Broncos dropped to 1-3 (0-2 SLC), Westosha Central posts its best start to the season since 2000, when they opened at 7-0.

“It feels amazing, this program hasn’t felt like this in a long time, and I am glad to be a part of it,” said Frederick, whose Falcons are 2-0 in the SLC.


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