Newman Catholic Wins 8-Player Football Title

WISCONSIN RAPIDS, Wis. – Newman Catholic (12-0) scored 35 points in the second quarter and cruised to a 49-6 victory over Luck (10-2) in the 2021 State 8-Player Football Championship game Saturday at South Wood County Stadium.

In a rematch of the 2019 title game between two teams nicknamed the Cardinals, Newman Catholic avenged its 42-27 loss in dominant fashion, outgaining Luck, which was missing its leading offensive threat with an injury, 371-81 in total offense and possessing a 22-4 margin in first downs for the game.

Quarterback Conner Krach scored the first of his three touchdowns on the day with a 7-yard run at the 9:42 mark of the first quarter to give Newman Catholic a 7-0 lead. Krach began the second-quarter scoring barrage on a 12-yard pass to Eli Gustafson to double the Cardinals’ lead to 14-0 at the 11:54 point of the second quarter.

The duo hooked up again less than two minutes later on a 5-yard scoring strike to increase the Newman Catholic lead to 21-0. Conner added his second rushing score on a 26-yard scamper at 7:45 in the second quarter for a 28-0 lead. The Cardinals expanded their lead to 35-0 with 51 seconds remaining in the first half on a 5-yard run by Jacob Pfiffner.

On the next play from scrimmage, Luck scored its only points of the game on a 72-yard dash by Connor Svoboda to cut the deficit to 35-6. However, any momentum leading into halftime was taken back by Newman Catholic with a three-play, 63-yard scoring drive that consumed 23 seconds. The drive culminated with Krach’s third scoring run, a 1-yard leap over the goal line to expand the lead at halftime to 42-6.

The only scoring of the second half, played with a running clock, was on a bad snap from center that Gustafson recovered in the back of the end zone to cap the scoring and give Newman Catholic a 49-6 lead with 8:17 remaining in the game.

Krach led all rushers with 128 yards on 12 carries, and he completed 11-of-15 passes for 131 yards. His two favorite targets were Pfiffer, who made five catches for 36 yards, and Gustafson, who had four receptions for 63 yards and two touchdowns.

Defensively, Newman Catholic allowed Luck only 2.5 yards per play in the game. Remove the 72-yard run surrendered at the end of the first half, the Cardinals yielded just 15 yards of total offense. Josh Klement and Ben Hardesty made eight stops apiece for Newman Catholic, and three of Hardesty’s were behind the line of scrimmage. Gustafson also made three tackles for loss and recovered the fumble for a touchdown.

Conner Zvoboda accounted for 71 of the Luck’s 87 yards on 14 rushes and one touchdown. He only attempted one pass in the game, which fell incomplete. The Luck offense was derailed by eight fumbles in the game, two resulting in turnovers.

Defensively, Gavin Fredericks led all tacklers in the game with 12 stops, and he forced and recovered a fumble for Luck.

Newman Catholic wins its first championship in the Cardinals second championship game appearance. Luck has appeared in all three 8-player championship games, winning the title in 2019 and finishing runner-up in 2018 and again this year.

Complete Game Statistics


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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]