Colby wins fourth state football title
By Mike Warren
MADISON – When Colby won the Division 6 state football title Nov. 18 at Camp Randall Stadium in Madison, the Hornets joined 18 other teams who have won four or more championships.
Colby (13-1) defeated St. Mary’s Springs of Fond du Lac (11-3) by a final score of 22-7. The Hornets won their fourth championship in their sixth finals appearance, after winning Division 5 titles in 2008 and 2011 and a Division 4 crown in 1998. Colby lost to Westby in a Division 4 championship contest in 1985, and got beat by Brillion in the Division 5 title matchup in 2010.
In their first appearance in the Division 6 title tilt, the Hornets were led by Brent Jeske, who scored three touchdowns. The first came on a four-yard run just two minutes into the game, capping off a five-play, 35-yard drive, after Caden Healy returned the opening kickoff 52 yards.
After forcing a Ledgers punt on their opening drive, the Hornets got the ball back at the Springs 48-yard line, and used six plays to score again, this time on a one-yard run by Jeske, with 5:04 remaining in the first quarter. After Colby’s defense forced a three-and-out by Springs, the Hornets used nine plays to drive the ball down to the Fond du Lac 21-yard line, where Tucker Brost missed a 38-yard field goal attempt. On the fourth play of the Ledgers’ ensuing drive, Springs quarterback Cullen King fumbled the ball, and Jeske scooped it up and went 63 yards for another Colby score, giving the Hornets a 20-0 lead early in the second quarter.
After the teams traded punts, the Ledgers got their only score of the game when running back, Levi Huempfner rumbled for 52 yards and a touchdown with 3:42 left in the second quarter. Successive five-play drives by both teams ended in punts, before the Hornets ran out the first-half clock.
An eight-play drive ended in another Fond du Lac punt to open the third quarter, followed by a 13-play Colby drive that ended when the Hornets turned the ball over on downs with 1:16 left in the period. After another Springs possession ended with a punt, the Hornets went on an eight-play drive, before Brost had a 23-yard field goal attempt blocked with 7:01 left in the game.
Both teams then went four-and-out on their next possessions, before the Ledgers got the ball back with 4:49 remaining. After two incomplete passes by King, a false start penalty backed the Ledgers up to their own four-yard line. On third-and-14, King was sacked in the end zone by Andrew Jeske for a safety with 4:27 left in the contest. Colby then used nine plays following the safety to run out the clock to clinch their 13th win of the season, and the first state championship for Head Coach Jim Hagen, who won three state titles as a long-time assistant under Jeff Rosemeyer between 1992 and 2016.
Hagen is now 40-12 after five seasons as the head coach of the Hornets. Brent Jeske, who will play his college football at Winona State, led the Hornets with 145 yards and two touchdowns on 25 carries. Healy added 75 yards on 15 rushes. Mason Voss ran the ball a dozen times for 47 yards. Tristen Stange led the Colby defense with eight tackles.
The Hornets outgained the Ledgers 276-207, and ran 20 more offensive plays. Colby also prevented St. Mary’s Springs from becoming the first WIAA team to win 10 state championships. The Ledgers finished as the 2021 Division 6 runner-up in their WIAA-leading 13th championship game appearance.
The Hornets defeated Oconto, Abbotsford, Auburndale and Durand in the playoffs, on their way to the title contest.