Abbotsford Perseveres in Win over Melrose-Mindoro

Melrose (OnFocus) – It’s a bit rare for a football game to take two days to complete due to weather delays, but the Abbotsford Falcons gutted out a 13-6 win over the Melrose-Mindoro Mustangs. The game began Friday evening at 7:00 before being delayed just before halftime. The two teams resumed play Saturday at 10:00 without any additional weather delays.

“This is a first for me – playing on two days. The bus ride home, then back again, resetting on short notice,” said Abbotsford Head Coach Jake Knapmiller. “We didn’t really have any momentum coming out of last night, and for us to battle like we did, it was a good thing.”

At the start of the game, radar showed inclement weather would soon be on its way, and the two teams were seemingly not only in a battle against one another, but against mother nature and her arsenal of lightning strikes. It was Abbotsford that beat mother nature to the punch, however, and it didn’t take long.

The Falcons took the opening kickoff down to the M-M 33 yard, courtesy of a solid return by sophomore JV Castillo.

Two plays later, senior running back Ty Falteisek raced around left end untouched for a 36 yard score. Abbotsford led 7-0 with just a minute gone, and appeared to be rolling.

M-M went nowhere on its first drive, and the Falcons took the ball from their 12 yard line and proceeded to move down the field before stalling at the Mustangs’ 10 yard with just 23 seconds left in the opening quarter.

2021 Abbotsford Falcon Football Season Preview

M-M sruggled with the ball deep in their territory, and on fourth down, a fumbled snap on the punt  appeared to be an opportunity that would surprise Abbotsford. The Mustangs’ punter raced out of the end zone and had what seemed to be a sure first down, but Abbotsford’s Falteisek was ready. Racing from his spot on the line, Falteisek tracked down the punter for a textbook open field tackle that gave Abbotsford great field position.

2021 Abbotsford Football Schedule

The Falcons lost the ball on the next play, but their defense stayed tough,   forcing another punt from the Mustangs. Abbotsford punted it right back to Melrose-Mindoro however, and with 1:57 left in the first half, M-M came out on a mission. The home team effectively marched right down the field and had the Falcons on their heels.

abbotsford at melrose

Following an 18 yard pass to the Falcons’ 43 yard line, mother nature got everyone’s attention.

With 48.3 second left before halftime,  a lightning strike in the area was followed with power to the stadium lights going out. Lightning strikes could be seen across the skies, and the crowd scurried away for cover in their vehicles and under shelter.

WIAA policy for lightning in the area require that  a game may resume no earlier than 30 minutes from the last visible occurrence of lightning. Everyone was involved in  a second game: the waiting game.

After Head Coaches Jacob Knapmiller of Abbotsford and Tony Lockington of Melrose-Mindoro conferred with the officials, it was agreed the game would resume Saturday at 10:00 AM.

When play resumed Saturday morning, the Mustangs’ proved their extended break overnight gave them additional life. 48 seconds were left in the first half and M-M made the most of them. M-M had Abbotsford reeling, and facing a 3 and 7 with under 20 seconds to go, it was time for the Falcons’ defense to make a big play.

A sack by Falcons’ defensive lineman Mason Wellman as time ticked away thwarted the Mustangs’ effort to tie the game, and both teams paused for a brief halftime conference.

M-M then proved the time to pause and prepare was a  needed boost, and taking the second half kickoff, wasted no time in making a statement.

A screen pass to Raef Radcliffe turned in to a 45 yard touchdown with just a minute off the clock, but after the bobbled extra point snap, Abbotsford clung to a 7-6 lead.

The Falcons took the ensuing kickoff and took 17 plays to get down to the M-M 4 yard line before penalties moved them out of scoring position, turning the ball over on downs. Three minutes remained in the third quarter, and M-M stayed calm and proceeded to build momentum as they used their running game to push the ball upfield as the third quarter ended.

A game that had been started and stopped, resumed the next day, involved carloads of Falcons’ fans going back and forth to Melrose, included swarms of mosquitoes proving their strength then saw its biggest moment, fitting for the fans in attendance: a huge football play.

At the time, the biggest play of the game.

On the first play of the final quarter, Diedrich came up big for Abbotsford, ending a M-M drive that appeared to be headed for paydirt. Diedrich came up from his linebacker position and nabbed a pitch from Lockington out of the air. The Falcons’ offense then went on the field, determined to score.

Falteisek ran for 24 yards on the first play to the M-M 43 yard line, and it became clear Abbotsford was not only attempting to score, but also to grind out the clock. Abby had M-M convinced the run would be their method the rest of the game, but it was the Falcons’ passing game that came up big.

Enter Diedrich for what is arguably the biggest play of the game.

Facing a 3rd and 7 from the Mustangs’ 30, Castillo stepped back and tossed a rainbow to Diedrich on a crossing pattern, who was downed at the one yard line.

Sophomore fullback Evan Schunk then scored from a yard out and Abbotsford led 13-6 with 7:48 remaining.

“We moved the ball well, but every time we moved inside the 20, we had penalties that hurt us.  We left too many points out there tonight,” Knapmiller shared.

The Falcons’ defense forced M-M to punt after a 4 play drive, and with 6:05 left, Abbotfsord took over after the punt from its 35. Mission: grind out the clock. It would be mission accomplished.

Abbotsford reeled off 15 plays, all runs, down the stretch, as Falteisek and Castillo proved to be unstoppable behind an offensive line that wore down the Mustangs.

Falteisek led all rushers with 142 yards on 18 carries. Castillo added 75 yards on the ground with 18 carries, and threw for 110 yards, on 6 of 11 passing attempts.

“Give Melrose-Mindoro credit, they made us work for it,” Knapmiller added.

NOTES:

  • The mosquitoes at Melrose-Mindoro field are worthy of special distinction.  A hearty bunch, the crop weren’t fazed by bug spray Friday evening, undeterred from chemicals.
  • The Falcons travel to Marathon in Week 3 for their Marawood Conference opener.
  • Melrose-Mindoro may want to consider seeking sponsorship for its football field, and there are no shortage of bug spray companies that could be approached. Seriously, the worst case of mosquitoes ever, something a horror movie could pounce on.

OnFocus Week 2 High School Football Scoreboard

************************************************************************

Know some top athletic performances? Seeing some great teams in action?

We can use your help, and it’s simple.  Witness some great performances? Hear about top athletes and top teams in our area?

Nominate an athlete or team: HERE

Pancakes or Waffles!  We feature top area athletes with our world-renowned feature. Send us your nominations for who you’d like us to interview HERE

Baked or Fried! We also feature difference makers throughout central Wisconsin: coaches, booster club leaders, adminstration, volunteers, you name it. Send us your nominations for who you’d like us to interview HERE

College Athlete Roundup! We want to recognize student-athletes from the area who are competing at the college level. Send us information on college athletes from the area with our simple form HERE

Where are they Now? We feature athletes and difference makers  from the past, standouts in sports who excelled over the years and have moved on. Know of a former athlete, coach or difference maker who we should feature? Know of a former standout competitor whose journey beyond central Wisconsin sports is one we should share? Send us information on athletes and difference makers of the past with our simple form HERE 

We welcome your stories! Contact us at [email protected]!

David Keech
Author: David Keech

David Keech is a math teacher in Wisconsin Rapids and public address announcer for Abbotsord High School. He officiates basketball, baseball, and softball in central Wisconsin. He has reported on amateur sports since 2011, known as 'KeechDaVoice.' David can be reached at [email protected]