Stingy defense sparks Auburndale football to shutout of Marathon
By Paul Lecker
AUBURNDALE – Three times Marathon had the ball inside the Auburndale 10-yard line in the fourth quarter, and all three times the Apaches held their ground, preserving a 10-0 shutout in Marawood Conference football action Friday night at Thorpe Field at Auburndale High School.
The Apaches finish the regular season with a 6-2 record and a 5-2 mark in the Marawood, which is good for a tie with Stratford for second place. Marathon is 4-4 and ends up 4-3 in the conference. WIAA playoff seedings and brackets will be announced on Saturday.
Auburndale put up 10 points on its first two drives of the second quarter and while it struggled offensively in the second half, gaining just 48 yards, the defense did everything it could to seal the victory.
Two short punts into a strong wind and another punt that was blocked put Marathon in prime scoring position on all three of its fourth-quarter possessions.
Marathon took over at the Auburndale 38 and drove to the 8 before Matt Nikolay knocked down a fourth-down pass to end the drive.
Marathon started at the Apaches 25 with 4:18 to go and reached the five before again turning the ball over on downs as Ethan Seubert’s running attempt came up 2 yards short.
After Reid Parks recovered a punt that was blocked by Samuel Buchberger at the 5, Tyler Weber picked off a Kellen Vetter pass at the 2 with 1:20 left to end it.
“Our defense played as good as it had all season,” Auburndale coach Josh Nagel said. “The last three possessions Marathon was handed the ball all inside the 30-yard line. Our boys came to play tonight. It was a special night.
“To finish in second place in the Marawood Conference generally helps your seeding.”
Seubert came into the game as the Marawood’s top rusher (787 yards) and touchdown-scorer (12), but the Apaches defense made him look ordinary. Seubert finished with 89 yards on 20 carries, forcing the Raiders to pass more than they would like. Vetter ended up just 2 of 19 passing for 11 yards and two interceptions.
“I think our d-line really stepped up tonight and our linebackers really filled hard,” said Auburndale safety/running back Matt Nikolay, one of 11 seniors for the Apaches. “They have two great running backs in Seubert and (Andre) Carriveau and I think our line and linebackers did a great job on them tonight.”
The first quarter was a stalemate as Auburndale gained only one first down and Marathon didn’t have any.
The Apaches took advantage of a special teams miscue early in the second quarter. Marathon punter Preston Wirkus kicked the ball into the back of his backfield protector and Nikolay recovered at the 18.
Four plays later, quarterback Wyatt Weiler snuck in from the 3 to put Auburndale on top 7-0.
Auburndale took over at the 33 after an 18-yard punt, converted a fourth-down and 15 on a pass play from Weiler to Paul Willfahrt on a tipped ball, and settled for a 28-yard field goal from Matt Lang to make it 10-0 with 3:49 to go in the half.
That was it for the scoring as the Apaches defense was just too good on this night.
Auburndale finished with just 140 yards of offense, but held the Raiders to 111 in what was a battle of the top two offenses in the conference.
“The lineman were keeping everything off of us linebackers and making it real easy to make tackles,” Auburndale senior linebacker Cooper Krings said. “We knew we needed to come out and stop Seubert, he’s one of the best running backs in the conference.”
Apaches 10, Raiders 0
Marathon 0 0 0 0 – 0
Auburndale 0 10 0 0 – 10
A – Wyatt Weiler 3 run (Matt Lang kick), 10:10.
A – Lang 28 field goal, 3:49.
First downs: Marathon 6; Auburndale 6
Rushing (att-yards): Marathon 28-110; Auburndale 47-111.
Passing (comp-att-yards-int): Marathon 2-19-11-2; Auburndale 5-9-29-0.
Penalties (no.-yards): Marathon 2-10; Auburndale 4-22.
Fumbles (total-lost): Marathon 0-0; Auburndale 1-0.
Punting (no.-avg.): Marathon 6-30.0; Auburndale 8-22.5.
Rushing: M, Ethan Seubert 20-89, Andre Carriveau 7-19, Kellen Vetter 1-2. A, Wyatt Weiler 18-46, Matt Nikolay 11-30, Paul Willfahrt 6-17, Jake Lewis 9-13, Kurt Jankowski 3-5.
Passing: M, Vetter 2-19-11-2. A, Weiler 5-9-29-0.
Receiving: M, Landon Williamson 1-9, Seubert 1-2. A, P. Willfahrt 2-15, Lewis 1-7, Jankowski 1-5, Aaron Willfahrt 1-2.
Interceptions (defense): A, Collin Hawkins, Tyler Weber.
Punting: M, Preston Wirkus 6-30.0. A, Shane Brandl 8-22.5.
Records: Marathon 4-4, 4-3 Marawood Conference; Auburndale 6-2, 5-2 Marawood Conference.
(Hub City Times Sports Reporter Paul Lecker is also the publisher of MarshfieldAreaSports.com).