Wilmot captured first season victory
By Jason Arndt
Wilmot quarterback Cooper Zimmerman couldn’t ask for a better way to end the Panthers football season with an Oct. 15 win against county rival Westosha Central.
Zimmerman in the regular season finale for both teams at Wilmot’s Frank Bucci Field went 11 of 16 in pass attempts for 159 yards, two touchdowns and an interception in the Panthers’ 35-14 defeat of the Falcons.
“I couldn’t ask for a better way to the end a season,” said Zimmerman.
For the Panthers, who have experienced a trying season, they captured their first win with the decision against Westosha Central and finished the season 1-7 overall and 1-6 in conference.
Wilmot coach Keiya Square said the win came courtesy of lessons learned during the season.
During the season, Wilmot lost many close contests, including a tightly contested 13-6 decision at Burlington a week earlier.
“It was the culmination of everything this season and our guys finally put it together and started believing in each other,” he said.
“It was really nice to see us playing to our potential.”
While the Panthers entered the contest out of playoff contention, they did play the role of spoilers, ending Westosha Central’s chance of a possible postseason berth.
The Falcons, according to WisSports.net, were projected to qualify for the playoffs as one of the last teams if they came away with a win against Wilmot.
Westosha Central, however, concluded its season 4-5 and 2-5 in conference.
“They had a really good season,” Panthers coach Keiya Square said of Westosha Central. “We knew they were playing for something, so we had to come out fast, which I think we did.”
Falcons’ coach Jared Franz acknowledged the Panthers would present a challenge for his team in contest played at Frank Bucci Field in Wilmot.
“They wanted to win bad, they have been working hard all year, it was their Senior Night,” said Franz, a former assistant coach for Wilmot.
Westosha Central, meanwhile, committed six turnovers and seven penalties for 85 yards.
“We needed to do a better job of protecting the football,” Franz said, adding the turnovers left the Panthers with a short field. “It was really tough to overcome that.”
Hall a multi-purpose threat
Junior Anthony Hall, a running back and linebacker, posted the contest’s first score with 3-yard run in the first quarter to pull the Panthers ahead 7-0.
Hall, who had 18 carries for 91 yards rushing and a running touchdown, also finished with three catches for 57 yards and a receiving score in the Panthers victory.
“It is great having him on the field with him that big and that fast,” Zimmerman said of Hall.
The Falcons, however, responded with a senior Jakob Simmons 41-yard score at 1:05 in the first quarter and placed the contest in a 7-7 stalemate.
But in the opening drive of the second quarter, Wilmot, once again, retook the lead on a Zimmerman 58-yard pass to Hall at 11:21.
Falcons quarterback Nick Argersinger, in his third start in place of injured Brock Koeppel, then scored on a 17-yard run to make it a 14-14 contest.
Argersinger went 10-for-20 for 115 yards, however, threw three interceptions in the Falcons’ loss.
In the closing seconds of the first half, Hall answered with a 4-yard toss to junior Anthony Corona, giving the Panthers a 21-14 advantage heading into the second half.
Panthers pull away
Wilmot, clinging to a seven-point lead after the third quarter, pulled ahead in the final frame with two touchdowns.
Zimmerman scored on a 1-yard run at 4:12 before he found receiver Kade Frisby on an 11-yard touchdown pass to help the Panthers secure their victory.
For Square, he said the win contrasts with earlier contests, where the Panthers struggled in the second half.
“It was all of the thing that we have kind of been talking about all year,” Square said. “We knew we had to be able to finish in the second half.”
Frisby, a sophomore, finished with seven catches and had a team-leading 97 yards receiving for Wilmot.
Simmons, dealing with an injury since Oct. 1 against Lake Geneva Badger, amassed 96 yards rushing on 16 attempts for the Falcons.
Simmons finished his senior season with 159 carries for 1,374 yards and 18 touchdowns.
“He ran hard all season, the offensive line did a really good job. The last couple of weeks, I know it was hard for him not being 100%,” Franz said. “But he gave everything he had.”
Franz, meanwhile, said the team will miss Simmons and other seniors.
“It is sad to see the seniors go, but we are headed in the right direction,” he said. “Most of the players are returning next year and will make a run at the SLC.”