Northland Pines senior defensive lineman Jack Van Wormer chased the Northern Elite quarterback on a pass play during first-half action Friday night.
Northland Pines senior defensive lineman Jack Van Wormer chased the Northern Elite quarterback on a pass play during first-half action Friday night.
The Northland Pines football team kept its playoff hopes alive with a 42-14 victory over Northern Elite last Friday on Senior Night in Eagle River.

The Eagles are now 3-4 overall and need to win their final two games of the season to be playoff eligible.

“It was a great team win. It was Senior Night, so being able to get a win the night we honor our senior class was a great thing,” said Pines coach A.J. Zayia. “Many of our seniors have been three-year varsity starters, so it is hard to put into words what they have meant to the coaching staff and the program as a whole.”

The seniors include Mason Birchbauer, Foster Hakes, Kevin John, Ryan Peterson, Jack Van Wormer, Brad Stephens and Brett Nesbitt.

Pines started strong against Northern Elite, a co-op school from Niagara, Goodman and Pembine high schools, building a 28-0 lead in the second quarter.

The Eagles scored on a 2-yard run by Kevin John and a 26-yard run by Ryan Peterson, both in the first quarter.

“We started the game off about as well as we could’ve asked for. We had the ball to start the game and put together a nice 13-play scoring drive,” said Zayia. “After we scored on the extra point, we went with a surprise onside kick and were successful. Five plays later we were up 14-0.

Pines scored on two big plays in the second quarter, just a little more than a minute apart. Peterson raced 81 yards and Luke Rhode 79 yards for the scores. Andrew Hartwig kicked all four PATs in the first half.

Northern Elite finally got on the scoreboard with 2 minutes remaining in the second quarter on a 3-yard touchdown run. The PAT-kick failed and Pines led 28-6 at the half.

“Our offense really clicked in the first half. The fact that we could let their offense have the ball for a first time down by two scores already takes a lot of pressure off the defense,” said Zayia. “We had a great combination of our offensive line really controlling the line of scrimmage, and our running backs ran hard and found the openings.”

Neither team scored in the third quarter, but Pines added two more long scores in the fourth quarter. Peterson ripped off an 86-yard touchdown run and Kadin Kroeplin added a 40-yard touchdown run. Hartwig again added both kicks. 

Northern Elite scored a final touchdown on a 1-yard run with 12 seconds remaining in the game and added a two-point conversion to make the final 42-14.

Offensively, Pines rolled up 433 yards of offense, including 427 yards rushing. Rhode had 195 yards on nine carries and Peterson had 149 yards, also on nine carries. Rhode averaged 21.7 yards a carry, while Peterson had 16.6 yards a carry. Kroeplin added 43 yards on two carries and Foster Hakes had 32 yards on six carries.

Northern Elite had 271 yards of total offense, all on the ground.

Haskel Parker led Pines with six solo tackles and nine assisted tackles. Kroeplin had four solo tackles and five assists. Jake Wielhouwer had three solo tackles and six assists. Birchbauer had three solo tackles and five assists. Van Wormer had three solo tackles and four assists. Peterson had two solo tackles and five assists.

“Defensively we really played well. They run a double wing set, so they would put three players into most plays, so we were outnumbered at the point of attack quite a bit, but our defensive line and linebackers really responded well to keep their offense in check,” said Zayia.

Pines, 3-4 playing an independent schedule, will play Highland at Appleton West High School this Friday, Oct. 11, at 7 p.m. The Eagles will conclude the regular season next Friday, Oct. 18, at home against Crivitz on Homecoming.