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Vanguards drop opener


August 23, 2018

File photo.

Ace Ayers had a huge night in Wisconsin Heights' season-opening loss.

Wisconsin Heights' football team proved it can rally and fight.

In the future, Vanguards head coach Jeff Supernaw wants to see that for 48 minutes, not 24.

Heights dug itself a 30-6 halftime deficit against Sevastopol in its season-opener last Saturday. The host Vanguards rallied back within one score, but eventually dropped a 52-34 decision.

The game was added last week after Madison Abundant Life - the Vanguards' Week 1 opponent - cancelled its season. Heights actually was scheduled to face Abundant Life twice this year, and those games will now count as wins, meaning the Vanguards are 2-1 overall.

"We were incredibly flat in the first half," Heights coach Jeff Supernaw said. "I think Sevastopol's physical play was a shock to our system initially, and as a result it took us some time to get going."

Heights had a handful of tremendous performances in defeat.

Tommy Muschitz, who was expected to play tight end and linebacker, moved to quarterback after starter Cam Brown was hurt on the first defensive possession of the game. Muschitz proceeded to have a huge day, throwing for 258 yards and four touchdowns.

"Tommy had a very good day throwing the football," Supernaw said. "He was on time, accurate, and making the correct read a large majority of the time.

"The difference in his confidence level and decision making in his throws from last year was very noticeable. The team has put in a lot of work to improve our passing game from last year, and it showed on Saturday."

Wideout Ace Ayers had a terrific game himself. Ayers caught four passes for 125 yards and threw two touchdowns. Ayers also returned the opening kickoff of the second half 80 yards for a TD and had an interception.

"As a coaching staff, we have seen some flashes of what Ace is able to do in our scrimmages and preseason practices, and he was able to put it together on Saturday," Supernaw said. "He is a great athlete and runs very good routes, which leads to him getting the ball with separation from the defensive player.

"When he gets the ball in space, he can be a very dangerous player. Counting his kick returns, interceptions, and receptions, Ace touched the football seven times and scored three times."

Sevastopol raced to a 16-0 lead after the first quarter. And Supernaw admitted the Pioneers' strength surprised the Vanguards.

"Sevastopol is a talented, big, physical football team and it was obvious they spent time in the weight room during the offseason," Supernaw said. "They were able to get good movement with their offensive line and we hurt ourselves by taking some bad angles and losing sight of our defensive keys at times. We actually tackled very well, we just had some mental mistakes at bad times."

Muschitz and Ayers hooked up for a 32-yard touchdown early in the second quarter that pulled Heights within 16-6. But Sevastopol answered with a pair of touchdowns before halftime and stretched its lead to 30-6.

Heights dominated the third quarter, though.

First, Ayers returned the second half kickoff 80 yards for a TD to make it 30-12.

Mary Langenfeld

Jeff Supernaw and Wisconsin Heights' football team face Port Edwards Thursday.

Muschitz then hit Dylan Rickey on a 21-yard TD pass that pulled the Vanguards within 30-18. Muschitz and Ayers struck again, this time teaming up for a 74-yard TD that trimmed Sevastopol's lead to 30-26.

The Pioneers answered with two straight touchdowns and built their advantage back to 44-26. But Heights wouldn't go quietly.

Muschitz hit Payton Flamme on a 19-yard touchdown that narrowed the gap to 44-34. But the Pioneers scored the final 10 points and held off the Vanguards' late rally.

"We showed that we have the ability to rally and fight, and it is a testament to the kids that they stepped up and came out swinging in the third quarter," Supernaw said. "Now we just need to find a way to come out swinging to start the game."

• On deck: Heights hosts Port Edwards Thursday at 6 p.m.


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