CMH sets up tie for conference title
Four teams share Classic 8 crown
Above:Catholic Memorial senior Sam Gromacki
applies pressure to Waukesha West junior quarterback
Conor Blount during Friday’s game at Waukesha North.
Below right: Catholic Memorial senior Jett Siegenthaler
comes down with an interception of a pass intended for
Waukesha West junior Tyler Remmers during
Friday’s game at Waukesha North. Charles Auer/Freeman Staff
Waukesha West 12 By Jeff Hagenau, Freeman Correspondent
WAUKESHA — Jett Siegenthaler’s split-second reaction made the difference.
Siegenthaler, a 6-foot 171pound senior defensive back, deflected a potential game-tying two-point conversion pass with two minutes remaining in the third quarter to help preserve a lead as the Catholic Memorial High School football went on to defeat Waukesha West 14-12 in a Classic 8 Conference regular-season finale at Waukesha North on Friday.
The dramatic, pressure packed victory clinched a share of the conference championship for Memorial, which improved to 5-2 in conference and 7-2 overall.
Memorial finished in a four-way tie for the title with West, Muskego and two-time defending WIAA Division 1 champion Arrowhead.
West dropped to 5-2 in conference and 7-2 overall.
Following a West touchdown to trim the deficit to two points, West junior quarterback Conor Blount rolled to his right and attempted a two-point conversion pass.
Siegethaler, who worked for good position in the right corner of the end zone, broke on the ball and deflected it to the ground.
It proved to be a backbreaker, as West came up empty on its final two drives in the fourth quarter.
“Everyone played with poise and did a nice job of handling the situation,” Siegenthaler said. “We had great coverage on the play, and the defensive line did an outstanding job of putting pressure on the quarterback to force him out of the pocket. It was just the result of everyone doing their job and working together to make something happen.
“Before the game, we were feeling a lot of pressure, but once we stepped on the field everything calmed down. It was just a great feeling to come away with a share of the conference title.”
Memorial scored the first points of the contest as junior quarterback Alex Bray connected with senior wide receiver Robbie Gogin on a 59-yard touchdown pass to cap a six-play, 74-yard game-opening drive with 9:55 left in the first quarter.
West trimmed the deficit to 7-6 with 6:21 remaining in the opening quarter as freshman running back Peter MacCudden scored on a 4-yard run to finish an eight-play, 59-yard drive — but the extra-point attempt failed by sailing wide right.
Memorial’s road to a share of the title came as the result of a freaky special teams’ breakdown by the Wolverines early in the second quarter.
Forced to punt from its own end zone into strong wind and driving rain, the ball flew out of bounds at the West 15-yard line.
The Crusaders took advantage of the excellent field position and three plays later extended their lead to 14-6 as sophomore running back Josh Karfonta scored on a 2-yard run with 9:11 left in the first half.
On what became the decisive touchdown, Karfonta took a handoff up the middle, followed the strong blocks of the offensive line and sprinted through to the end zone.
“It was a great game from start to finish,” said Karfonta, who rushed eight times for 20 yards. “Coming in having to face a tough team like West, we knew it would take our best effort to get the job done. To be able to walk away with a share of the title was unbelievable.”
West cut the deficit to 1412 on a 43-yard touchdown run by Blount with two minutes left in the third quarter, setting the stage for Siegenthaler’s critical defensive stop.
Bray completed 5 of 15 passes for 94 yards and a touchdown in leading the Memorial offense, which amassed 13 first downs and 209 yards of total offense.
Senior running back Tommy Garza rushed 20 times for a game-high 103 yards for the Crusaders, battling for three consecutive first downs on Memorial’s final possession to help run out the clock.
“Offensively, it was a great feeling to be able to step it up at the end, take the pressure off of our defense and help put the game away,” Garza said. “It was just an exciting experience and fun to be a part of the accomplishment.”
Senior defensive lineman Sam Gromacki, senior linebacker Mikey Wurster and sophomore defensive end Jaylen Campbell each had a sack to spark the Memorial defense, which yielded 16 first downs and 265 total yards.
Veteran Memorial coach Bill Young was ecstatic about the way his team responded to the challenge of playing for a share of the conference championship.
“It was just a great high school football game,” Young said of his 298th career victory. “After losing last week, we tried to prepare hard and came out with the attitude that we weren’t going to be denied. That focused, re-energized approach made the difference.”
Blount completed 15 of 32 passes for 156 yards with an interception for West, which clinched a share of the league title last week with a 17-10 victory over Kettle Moraine.
“Tonight’s game showed how truly difficult it is to win each week in this conference,” West coach Steve Rux said. “We had a chance to finish with the outright title but just made a few key mistakes. Even though we fell short this time, we still earned a share of the championship and have nothing to hang our heads about.”