Arrowhead Football Team Survives Thriller, Moves on to State

Logan Winser, Reporter

It wasn’t pretty, but Arrowhead football is moving on to state for the fourth straight year with a win over Franklin 20-17 in the Level IV Division one playoffs on Friday, November 13th.

On a cold, brisk night at Vork Field in Kettle Moraine, Arrowhead did not play their best football. But with a strong effort by the defence, the team was able to pull of one of the most dramatic wins in school history.

Arrowhead was going for their fourth straight appearance to the WIAA Division One championship, while the undefeated Franklin Cougars were trying to reach the championship for the first time in school history.

The game didn’t start off well for the Warhawks.

On the second drive of the first quarter, senior Quarterback Johnny Duranso scrambled for a first down, but was hit hard and fumbled the ball at midfield.

Franklin senior Ben McCarthy took back the loose ball all the way for the first touchdown of the game.

Arrowhead waited until the second quarter to answer Franklin with a 28-yard touchdown to senior receiver Jake Hower.

Tied at seven, Arrowhead seemed to have the momentum at the end of the half, ten yards away from scoring with 2:13 left. But with back-to-back-to-back penalties, Arrowhead was forced to attempt a 38-yard field goal, in which senior kicker Johnny Mack missed left. This gave Franklin the chance to go down the field quickly, and make a chip shot field goal as the half ended 10-7.

This marked the first time all season Arrowhead has been down at the half, according to Maxpreps.

Arrowhead answered the first drive it had the ball in the second half with a three-yard touchdown run by Duranso. But Mack missed the extra point making the game 13-10.

After another missed field goal by the Warhawks, with seven minutes remaining in the fourth quarter, Franklin running back Gavin Boeck scored from the 21 yards out to take the lead 17-13.

Now, for the second week in a row, Duranso needed to take his team down the field and score to move on in the playoffs.

Duranso started off the drive with 40-yard bomb to senior wide receiver Justin Peret. This gave Arrowhead five minutes to score the game-winning touchdown.

But everytime Arrowhead gained yards, penalties came. With a holding penalty, illegal shift penalty, and a block in the back, Arrowhead was in a hole with a third and 18 at the 33 yard line.

With 3:16 remaining, Duranso threw an incomplete ball in the endzone to Peret, but a pass interference on Franklin gave Arrowhead 15 yards and a third and four. Duranso, on the next play, threw back to Peret and with a few juke moves, and got inside the ten yard line.

Second and goal for the Warhawks, Duranso scrambled in the pocket and tossed the ball to a wide open Peret for what appeared to be the game-winning touchdown. But once again, penalties hurt the Warhawks. A holding penalty was called on the play and that negated the touchdown.

After a nice play by Hower, Arrowhead was set with a fourth and goal with 1:43 remaining. The season was on the line for the Warhawks.

Duranso took a three-step drop and was immediately pressured. He scrambled back and threw a screen to senior running back Nick Bastien who walked in the end zone for a touchdown. No flags. Arrowhead led 20-17.

“We had run a similar play that I found [Peret] on the left side,” said Duranso. “I was looking at him again and he was covered. So I scrambled and found [Bastien] for the touchdown.”

As the Warhawks players and fans celebrated, there was game still to be played.

After Franklin got to the 32 yard line, they were forced with a third and seven with only 12 seconds left in the game. The only field goal made in the game was a chip shot by Franklin–so Franklin woudln’t kick it from 50 yards out on a below freezing night.

Franklin’s quarterback then threw a bomb down the middle of the field complete to Franklin receiver Gavin Boeck and was tackled at the one yard line. After Franklin ran down the field and spiked it with three seconds left, the Franklin crowd roared. Now Franklin needed a 22-yard field goal to send the game to overtime. The entire Arrowhead bench stood, stunned.

Although the stadium expected a field goal (to send the game to overtime), Franklin had another idea: all or nothing. They sent their offence out on the field.

One play decided who played Kimberley in the 2015 WIAA Division one Championship.

At the one yard line, with three seconds left, Franklin snapped the ball, but the quarterback never touched it. It snapped over his head and was recovered by Arrowhead. Game over. No time was left on the clock.

Players stormed the field, fans went wild, and the band played the classic Arrowhead fight song. The entire Franklin offence was either standing in place or lying on the ground with their hands on their head.

Bastin couldn’t believe what had happened that night.

“It was an emotional rollercoaster,” says Bastin. “I thought we were [going to] lose when they got it to the one yard line. Then they snapped it over his head. I still can’t believe it.”

Arrowhead won the game 20-17 to move on to its fourth-straight championship game, while Franklin was one yard short of its first state championship appearance.

This was Franklin’s first loss of the year. And head coach for Arrowhead Greg Malling knew how good Franklin was.

“They are an incredible group of kids (Franklin) and they showed they were on of the top teams in the state,” says Mailing, “They just got a little ahead of themselves and it let us have opportunities to win the game.”

Arrowhead will play a rematch of last year’s title game versus Kimberly Papermakers on Friday, November 20th, at Camp Randall in Madison, Wisconsin.

Kimberly won last year’s game 31-6.