Augusta gridders stepping up to bigger, better things
AUGUSTA - The steps may keep getting bigger, but taking them makes them a whole lot better.
Thus when the Augusta High School Football Team pulled off an exciting 22-20 win over Alma/Pepin last week Friday, Sept. 24 at Centennial Field many good things awaited them.
The Beavers, unbeaten at 6-0 for the first time since winning the state title in 1989, are now ranked No. 7 in the state in Division 6 in the Wissports.net coaches' poll (https://www.wissports.net/page/show/6736530-week-6#). The win over the Eagles was their fourth in Dairyland Conference play assuring them a WIAA playoff berth for the first time since 2019. And their head coach Derek Boldt received word on Wednesday that he was named Green Bay Packers Wisconsin High School Coach the Week as the Beavers have completely turned themselves around from finishing 1-7 last season.
But the steps ahead will keep on getting bigger as the challenges increase. The team will no doubt have to adjust and handle such success after such a big win last week, on top of the distractions Homecoming provides as the Beavers get ready to host Blair-Taylor this Friday at Centennial Field with the kick-off at 7 p.m. While being in Division 6 is just a projection from the coaches poll there's no doubt AHS would prefer to drop down a level lest they run into No. 1 ranked Eau Claire Regis, who scored 50 points in the first half against a Fall Creek squad that Augusta had to work hard to beat. And they on top of all this hope COVID-19 doesn't throw a wrench in their plans.
"I've always believe after a win you celebrate afterwards and the very next morning you move on," Boldt said. "I'm fully expecting our players and coaches will get right to work preparing for Blair-Taylor. I think the attitude of our players is in a very good spot to handle everything coming at them."
Such good attitudes were on display late against the Eagles, 4-1 overall and 3-1 in the DC. Augusta had fumbled the ball deep in Eagle territory late in the fourth quarter while driving to take the lead. But A/P couldn't put the game away as they fumbled it back to the Beavers on the very next play and Augusta took advantage with a nine-yard TD pass from Brennan King to Tyler Brixsen with :52 seconds remaining. It was just one of five passes King completed but the Beavers didn't need to throw too much with a rushing attack piling up 304 yards led by King's 32 yards, 107 yards from Marcus Livingston, 38 from Ben Dickinsen and 128 from Jackson Laxson.
"The win feels great it was the first time this season we dealt with adversity and showed we won't get down on ourselves, we can still win," Livingston said. "We gave up the ball but (Coach) told us to pick our heads up and we did to get the ball back."
Such fortitude in the face what could have been a soul-crushing disaster which Augusta turned into a positive, demonstrates to Boldt what he and his staff knew about this squad from the first week of practice. they also didn't fold after giving up a 70-yard fumble return for the game's first score at 8:58 in the first quarter.
"After Day 5 or 6 we saw what we could be," Boldt said. "And after winning the Pittsville game, our opener, in a shutout I think the kids finally understood it as well and I think they finally understood where all the hard work they've put in pays off, in big wins like we had against Alma/Pepin but also in just winning itself and how much fun this season has been so far. All of this is the payoff. And they also understood, tonight, that you keep working hard and don't break, no matter what happens, they will be winners. They can take pride in the kind of program they've built together."
Alma/Pepin certainly proved a tough opponent for Augusta. They had a balanced offense that gained over 300 yards led by senior quarterback Evan Creighton, 8-for-13 for 152 yards with his top receiver senior Colton Brecka, four catches for 72 yards. Eagles' freshman running back Demetrius Bergmann rushed for 126 yards and scored on TD runs of one and three yards. Creighton was the who returned the fumble for a score.
Augusta responded to tie the game at 8-8 with Livingston 23-yard TD run in the second quarter. After trailing at halftime 14-8, the Beavers' took the lead on Livingston's second TD, a 38 yards run from scrimmage. The Eagles came back to take the lead again with 4:38 to go before both teams exchanged fumbles and Augusta got the better end of the deal. A/P had one more drive left in them and got all the way down to the Beavers' 25-yard line but their final play ended with an incompletion and a celebration from players and AHS students for a thrilling victory.
Augusta's two-point win was also due to making two critical two-point conversion runs, one by King and the other by Laxson.
Now it's on to the next step. And while the Wildcats, 3-3 overall and 2-2 in the league have been struggling as of late, having lost two in a row, they still possess one of the top quarterbacks in the Dairyland Conference in senior Cain Fremstad, who has thrown for nearly 900 yards and nine touchdowns this season and rushed for 300 and four touchdowns, along with sophomore running back Jackson Schramek who has rushed for over 450 yards and three TDs and their top receiver junior Evan Nehring who has 19 catches for 251 yards and three scores. B-T needs a win desperately to secure a playoff spot and their desperation is the challenge the Beavers will face while handling all the distractions of Homecoming and the trappings of success this week.