By Jason Arndt

Aside from the opening drive, visiting Delavan-Darien/Williams Bay just could not break through the brick wall known as the Wilmot Union High School defensive line, which accounted for five total sacks in an Aug. 31 Southern Lakes Conference contest.

Panthers senior Kevin Brenner, who tallied four of the team’s five sacks, also forced a fumble to help Wilmot cruise to a 31-12 SLC win.

Brenner’s unstoppable efforts, according to Panthers coach Keiya Square, is indicative of the senior’s offseason work ethic.

“Kevin is one of those kids who worked extremely hard in the weight room in the offseason, he had a great offseason,” said Square. “He is extremely hard to block one-on-one. He never stops.”

Comets coach Hank Johnson, whose team scored in the opening drive, tried to avoid the Panthers front seven by moving the ball to the outside.

“We were trying to get to the outside, we were trying to get the guys moving,” Johnson said. “After our first drive, we kind of got away from it because of their size.”

Overall, the Panthers accounted for 94 tackles, with nine coming from Brenner, to hold the Comets to 173 total offensive yards.

The Comets, who took possession to start the contest, opened with an 80-yard scoring drive capped off by an 11-yard Mateo Morales touchdown reception from junior quarterback Jay Greenwald with 8:07 left in the first quarter.

After Delavan-Darien (1-2, 0-1 SLC) failed the point after touchdown, which put the Panthers in a 6-0 deficit, Wilmot answered on the next possession.

Senior Austin Norton, who amassed 130 all-purpose yards, contributed 57 in the responding drive and capped it off with a 22-yard touchdown run with 4:19 left in the opening quarter.

On the ground, Norton finished with 20 carries for 90 yards.

According to Norton, he was just taking whatever the Comets defense offered him.

“I thought tonight was pretty good, every play wasn’t there, but most of it was,” Norton said. “I usually take what I can get.”

Defense presses Comets
In the second quarter, where the Panthers outscored the Comets 10-0, Delavan-Darien took possession on its own 20-yard line.

After the Comets committed a penalty, with pushed them to their own 8-yard line, they were faced with a first and 22.

As Greenwald dropped back to pass, Brenner rushed the Comets quarterback, knocked the football loose and bounced to the 10-yard line, where it was recovered by Austin Videlka.

Videlka led the Panthers in tackles with 18.

Three plays later, on fourth down, Wilmot’s Zack Watson scored his first of two rushing touchdowns on a 2-yard score to pull the Panthers ahead 14-6 with 8:54 left in the first half.

More than a minute later, after the Panthers reclaimed possession, they could have extended their lead to 20-6 when senior Cullen Ketterhagen caught a slant from Lamberson and returned the football 56 yards for a touchdown.

The touchdown, however, was called back after the Panthers holding penalty.

Collectively, the Panthers committed 13 penalties for 140 yards.

“The penalties are something that we need to address,” said Square. “It has been a problem our first three games. We had some big plays negated because of penalties.”

In the closing seconds of the first half, Wilmot’s Joe Davis kicked a 23-yard field goal to send the Panthers into halftime with a 17-6 edge.

Peterson pitches in
With 6:38 left in the third quarter, Delavan-Darien had possession on its own 25-yard line, but were pushed back 10 yards on a holding penalty.

After a Greenwald 5-yard pass to senior Sean Weise followed by an 8-yard run, the Comets were at their own 28-yard line.

On third and seven, Greenwald dropped back to pass, but was met by Peterson, who sacked him for a loss of nine yards.

One play later, Peterson blocked a punt, which gave the Panthers possession on the Delavan-Darien 12-yard line.

“Tanner and I are a scary matchup for any team,” Brenner said. “We both love the game and we are both going 100 percent on every play and I don’t think anyone in conference is going to stop us.”

The Panthers eventually scored on an 11-yard touchdown run from junior Aaron Gardner to extend their lead to 24-6 with 4:09 left in the third quarter.

In the fourth quarter, Watson added his second touchdown on a reverse run, taking the football for a 30-yard score to give Wilmot a 31-6 edge.

Delavan-Darien answered with a Ross Gengler run in the closing minutes.

Panthers play Waterford
Wilmot (2-1, 1-0 SLC), which came off a tough loss at Franklin, will host Waterford (2-1, 1-0 SLC) on Sept. 7.

“For us to come back to our own field and get a win going into next week is huge,” said Square.


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