Papermakers defeat Prairie Blackhawks

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The Blackhawks’ Jon Nicholson (170 pounds) tries to maneuver out of the way of a large, looming Papermaker (6-3, 355) Friday night in football playoff action. (Photos by Ted Pennekamp)

Prairie du Chien’s Brady Russell lunges across the goal line for a touchdown against visiting Nekoosa Friday night in playoff action.

Chase Fisher (20) and Ryan Wall (44) team up to make the tackle during Prairie du Chien’s last game of the season.

A pair of Prairie du Chien defenders converge on the Nekoosa ball carrier.

Ryan Drinkwine (25) and Lucas Kramer (54) close in on the Nekoosa ball carrier.

Christian Black (65) and another Blackhawk defender get in on the play.

Jon Nicholson leaves a would-be tackler in his wake as he takes off after intercepting a pass.

Jon Nicholson catches a touchdown pass in the back of the end zone.

By Colton Thompson


On Friday, the Hawks played their last game of their 2020 season and the second game of this year’s playoffs. The Nekoosa Papermakers (3-4) traveled to Prairie du Chien to take on the Blackhawks (4-4) after both teams had just won their first round match-ups. 

With the absence of Bradyn Saint, the Hawks were looking to pass the ball more than usual. They were able to do that as Maddox Cejka had his first game with over 200 passing yards this year but it was not enough to get the victory. The night ended with the Hawks losing 40-28 to the Papermakers. 

To start the game, the Papermakers received the ball from the north end zone. On their second play of the drive, Cordero Ysquierdo ran for a 71-yard touchdown to put the Papermakers up early. All season, Nekoosa would only go for 2-point conversions and they kept that going on Friday. Hunter Lochner was able to run it in and put Nekoosa up 8-0 early. 

On the Hawks first possession of the game, they were hit with two penalties to set them up for a second and 18. Maddox Cejka connected with Brady Russell for 9 yards to put them at third and 9 but the Hawks were unable to convert as Jon Nicholson punted the ball to the Nekoosa 11-yard line. The Papermakers moved up the field quickly again on big runs from Cordero Ysquierdo. After his 50-yard rush, Nekoosa was at PdC’s 15-yard line. Two plays later, Jonathan Wenzel was able to run it in for a 9-yard touchdown. Cordero Ysquierdo was stopped on his rush for the 2-point conversion but the Papermakers still led 14-0. 

PdC started their new drive with 5:17 remaining in the first quarter at their own 33-yard line. They were hit with a holding penalty early and had a second and 22 early in their drive. They were unable to convert and were forced to punt again. On the punt, Cordero Ysquierdo fumbled and PdC’s own John Titlbach dove on it to start the Hawks at Nekoosa’s 16-yard line. The Hawks were called for another penalty. This time it was an offsides flag and the Hawks were moved back for a second and 15. On fourth and 14, Maddox Cejka was able to find Jon Nicholson in the end zone for a touchdown. Joey Xiya hit the PAT and the Hawks moved it to a one possession game with the score now being 14-7. 

The Papermakers’ drive didn’t last long because on the fourth play of the drive Jon Nicholson was able to get an interception at the Nekoosa 41-yard line and returned it all the way back to the Nekoosa 10-yard line. 

On the first play of the new PdC drive, Maddox Cejka connected with Jon Nicholson again for a touchdown. Joey Xiya hit another PAT and the Hawks tied the game at 14. 

PdC came out on defense and forced a fourth down. Nekoosa tried to go for it but was held short and the Hawks took over at the Nekoosa 47-yard line. On the fifth play of the drive, Maddox Cejka connected with Brady Russell for a 27-yard touchdown to take the lead. Joey Xiya came out and hit another PAT to put Prairie du Chien up 21-14. 

The Papermakers had the last drive of the half that started at 2:36 and was at the Nekoosa 24-yard line. Nekoosa went for it after PdC was able to force a fourth down and were able to get a 27-yard run from Ethan Hoogesteger. With a few seconds left in the first half, Ethan Hoogesteger threw a deep ball to Cordero Ysquierdo for 26 yards but it was not enough as they ended up on the PdC 5-yard line and the time ran out in the first half.

PdC started with the ball at their own 45-yard line for the first drive of the second half. The Hawks moved up the field fast on big plays coming from rushes by Max Amundson and passes from Maddox Cejka to Brady Russell and Jon Nicholson. The biggest play being the last one when Maddox Cejka threw it to Jon Nicholson for another touchdown. Joey Xiya hit another PAT and PdC was now up 28-14. 

Nekoosa came out ready when they got the ball back in the second half. Ethan Hoogesteger was able to run the ball three times for 33 yards and three different first downs. The Papermakers eventually scored on an 8-yard rush by Hunter Lochner with 4:15 remaining in the third quarter. On the 2-point try, Ethan Hoogesteger attempted to throw it to Jonathan Wenzel but it was broken up and the Hawks still led 28-20. 

Nekoosa got the ball back at their own 47-yard line with 1:54 left in the third quarter. Cordero Ysquierdo led them up the field with two big rushes for a total of 35 yards. The drive ended with a keeper as Ethan Hoogesteger ran the ball 8 yards for a touchdown and made the score 28-26. They attempted a play action rollout to the right on the 2-point conversion but were stopped short and the Hawks led 28-26. 

The Hawks drive was stopped short when the Papermakers forced a three and out with 8:52 left in the fourth quarter. After the punt, Nekoosa started at their own 37-yard line. Two rushes for 20 yards from Ysquierdo and Hoogesteger moved them up the field into PdC territory. A few plays later, Ysquierdo ran for 32 yards and a touchdown to take the lead. Ysquierdo was also able to run it in for the 2-point conversion to take the lead 34-28. 

The Hawks were stopped early again as Logan Cleary stopped a few plays in the backfield. Maddox Cejka rolled right on a pass play and was hit from behind by Hunter Boudreau and fumbled as Nekoosa’s James Schaefbauer recovered it at PdC’s 34-yard line. Ysquierdo marched down the field on four rushes for 29 yards and moved them close to the goal line. The drive ended in another rushing touchdown from Hoogesteger, this time for 1 yard. The Papermakers now led 40-28. The 2-point conversion was no good and the Hawks were set to receive the ball with 1:36 left in the game. 

On the first play, Maddox Cejka took a shot downfield and connected with Brady Russell for a 48-yard gain. The Hawks got to the line quickly and immediately spiked the ball. Three straight incompletions followed and the Hawks had to walk off the field with a 40-28 loss.

The leading rusher for the Hawks was Max Amundson with 11 rushes for 40 yards. Leading the receivers in yards was Brady Russell with 6 receptions for 119 yards and a touchdown. Jon Nicholson added 6 catches for 61 yards and 3 touchdowns. Chase Fisher was also able to add on some catches with 2 for 30 yards. Maddox Cejka was 16-31 for 223 yards, 4 TDs, and 1 Int. The leading tackler was Christian Black with 12. Lucas Kramer, Max Amundson, and Chase Fisher all added on 11 tackles each. Jon Nicholson had 1 Int., and John Titlbach had 1 fumble recovery. 

A fun season

The Hawks made this a very fun season for all of us to watch this fall and played their hearts out every game. Thank you to the seniors and good luck to them on their future endeavors. The Hawks will be back in action next fall with more football for everyone to enjoy. 

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