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THE CITY REBORN FROM THE ASHES OF AMERICA'S MOST DISASTROUS FOREST FIRE
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Marinette Struggle In Bay Battle Against State Champs

With two-time defending state champion West DePere in town Friday night, Marinette (1-2) knew it was in for a heavy dose of top-tier football in all three phases of the game and that they were going to have to work hard to find any success on the evening.

And while both assumptions proved to be true and the Phantoms floated south just before the Friday night fog arrived with a 45-6 win in hand, the Marines were able to say they made some plays of their own against one of the state’s toughest opponents and that

“Not many teams out there are going to match up with them,” said Marinette head coach Kurt Gundlach of the West DePere group. “They’re just an explosive team. If you give them a crease to work with here and there, they’re going to explode for something. They did that at times but we felt that we were close on a lot of their big plays, maybe just missing a tackle in the second level. We just couldn’t execute quite the way we needed to against a team of that caliber.”

The contest’s first minutes gave Marines’ fans reason to be optimistic about their team’s chances of being able to keep up with the powerful Phantoms as the home team played stingy defense and forced West DePere into a three and out.

But the Phantom defense returned the favor when they took the field for the first time by shutting down all passing lanes for Marinette quarterback Jake McMahon on third and 16, forcing him to scramble for a respectable eight yards to set up the punt team from their own 30. But West DePere broke through the line on fourth and blocked the punt to set up a 34-yard run to the end zone on second down by Zachary Rothering, giving the Phantoms a 6-0 lead after a missed extra point kick.

After another tough three and out by the Marines’ offense, the defense once again came up big against the West DePere attack when, on third and long, Marinette’s Zach Campbell got his hands on a pass intended for a Phantom receiver along the sideline, breaking up the play and forcing another three and out.

An interception thrown on Marinette’s ensuing possession saw Rothering pick up a big gain on the ground from third and nine before picking up his second rushing touchdown of the game a couple of plays later from the four yard line.

More miscues from that point forward had Marinette up against the ropes most of the night. The Phantoms took a chance on fourth and three later in that first quarter and the Marines defense once again came up with a big stop to give the ball back to the offense. But a fumble on first down that was recovered by the Phantoms turned into a 36-yard score one play later when Dominique Conway shook loose and ran away from the defense to give West DePere a 20-0 edge on the scoreboard for the first quarter.

Marinette’s only score of the evening came in dramatic fashion as Dakota Vanidestine, with under five minutes to play in the first half, broke a huge 47-yard run to take the Marines into Phantom territory before McMahon put together a crafty play by evading the defense with his feet before airing out a nice pass down the sideline to Vanidestine, who went all the way to the end zone on the 36-yard scoring play.

“Offensively, they were just physically dominant on the line of scrimmage,” commented Gundlach. “That’s who they are. They’re going to dominate most teams at the line of scrimmage. But we re-assessed on Saturday after the loss and we know what we’ve got to get done. We really do need to just take it a game at a time and get better. We’re going to build on the positives we saw last week, not dwell on the things we couldn’t get done. I think that’s the way for us to move forward and I do think we’re close to getting some things together.”


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