RSM beats Don Bosco to return to their dome away from home

Thursday, November 11, 2021
Above, RSM senior lineman Sean Cronin gets excited after a play during the team’s win over Don Bosco.
(Photo Courtesy of Liz Fisch)

GILBERTVILLE — For the fourth time in the last five seasons, the Remsen St. Mary’s football team will be playing in the UNI-Dome. The team clinched another appearance as one of the final four teams left in 8-player football with a 64-42 win over Don Bosco in Thursday’s (Nov. 4) state quarterfinal round.

“We have kind of a new group of kids that are able to make it on their own, so it means we’re in a good spot in terms of the expectations and the culture itself,” RSM Head Coach Tim Osterman said. “I’m really happy for the kids.”

There was plenty of talk during the week of a 10-0 No. 4 ranked RSM team having to leave the friendly confines of their home field, where they have won their last 30 games, to play on the road against an unranked Don Bosco team with a worse 8-2 record. Osterman said the team’s mentality was that they have to be able to compete at a high level no matter where the road takes them.

Above, RSM quarterback Cael Ortmann avoids a diving tackle attempt by an Don Bosco defender while another defender approaches. Ortmann rushed for two touchdowns and passed for five more in the win.
(Photo Courtesy of Liz Fisch)

“It doesn’t matter where we play, it doesn’t matter how far away we play, we’re going to go and play our best. That was our mentality going in,” Osterman said. “We weren’t concerned about the distance. We weren’t concerned about the team we were playing. We were going to go play Remsen St. Mary’s football.”

The Hawks may have been a bit stiff after a three and a half hour trip across the state as they punted on their first possession, but the offense found its groove after that as they went on to have their second highest scoring game of the season.

Osterman said the offense really came together against the Dons.

Above, RSM’s Brenden Fisch (21) stiff-arms Don Bosco’s Ryan Naughton (5) after ripping the ball away from him while he was on his way to score the potential game-tying touchdown in the first half. It was one of four turnovers in the game for the Hawks on defense.
(Photo Courtesy of Liz Fisch)

“Ryan Willman has come on here late in the season. I think Austin Jensen is a known commodity. Brenden Fisch had a really good night, doing a lot with the touches he was given. There’s a lot to be said for Cael Ortmann and what he’s been able to do game in and game out,” Osterman said. “The offensive line did such a great job against a really difficult defensive line, probably the best defensive line we’ve seen all year.”

Don Bosco scored first on a short run from Cade Tenold before the Hawks broke free for back-to-back scoring runs from their side of the field to take a 14-8 lead by the end of the first quarter. Fisch rushed for a 48-yard score and Ortmann added a 44-yard scoring run.

The Dons took their final lead of the night early in the second quarter as they converted on a 4th-and-short play before Tenold ran for an 8-yard score to put the home team on top 16-14.

Above, Austin Jensen (10) makes a grab in the end zone over Don Bosco’s Myles McMahon. Jensen had two touchdowns on offense and intercepted a pass at the end of the game to seal the win over the Dons.
(Photo Courtesy of Liz Fisch)

The lead was short-lived as on the first play of RSM’s next possession, Ortmann connected with Willman for a 65-yard touchdown with another pass to Willman giving the team the 2-point conversion.

Don Bosco drove down to near the goal line, but they were unable to score on their next possession as Fisch recovered a fumble at the team’s on 4-yard line. The takeaway led to points as Ortmann was able to run for a 48-yard score to put the Hawks up by two possessions.

Don Bosco looked to make it close before halftime, scoring on a 53-yard pass play from Ty Purdy to Ryan Naughton and then forcing a punt to get the ball back. Naughton nearly scored again on the team’s next series, but Fisch ripped the ball from his hands as he ran towards the end zone after a reception. Fisch took the ball from about the RSM 5-yard line back into Don Bosco territory. Fisch forced another fumble on Don Bosco’s first drive of the second half which was picked up by Kadden Groepper. Osterman said the turnovers in the game were key to picking up the victory.

“We were lucky enough to get four turnovers,” Osterman said. “That makes a big difference. We were able to take advantage of those. Brenden Fisch was Johnny-on-the-spot on a couple of those fumble recoveries and then Austin Jensen gets his interception at the end. I’m really proud of our kids being willing to attack the football in the air in terms of coverages and then being opportunistic on those fumbles.”

On the first drive of the second half for the Hawks, Ortmann connected with Jensen for a 31-yard touchdown. Don Bosco did answer with a pass of 13-yards from Purdy to Naughton as they pulled to within a score at 36-30. RSM followed with two more scoring passes, a 15-yard play to Jensen and a 35-yard strike to Willman to extend the lead to 50-30 by the end of the third quarter.

Don Bosco, the champions in the 2019 season as well as 2017 when they beat the Hawks in the state title game, weren’t going to go down without a fight against the defending state champs. They scored the first two touchdowns of the fourth quarter to once again pull within one possession. The Dons got a 10-yard pass from Purdy to Tenold and then a 29-yard shovel pass between the same two to make it 50-42 with 7:30 left in the contest.

Any momentum the Dons had built quickly disappeared as on the first play of the next series for the Hawks, they scored on a 55-yard pass to Willman.

A turnover on downs allowed the Hawks to start deep in Don Bosco territory on the next drive which Fisch capped off with a 3-yard scoring run and Jensen finished off the victory with an interception for the team’s fourth turnover of the night.

Don Bosco falls short of the UNI-Dome for just the third time since joining the 8-player ranks in the 2012 season. The last time they didn’t make it was 2018 when Rockford beat them in overtime in the quarterfinal round. Newell-Fonda denied them the short trip to Cedar Falls in 2014 in a one point game.

RSM rallied around injured player Wesley Galles as the captains carried his #42 jersey to midfield for the pregame conference, the cheerleaders wore ribbons in their hair which were emblazoned with a football helmet showing his number and the players had stickers on their helmets with his number on them. Galles returned home from the hospital earlier in the week after suffering a neck fracture in the team’s previous game.

Unfortunately, the Hawks had other players get dinged up during the game with Osterman saying the team will have to adjust prior to their semifinal contest.

“We had three major injuries to players that we were expecting to play and contribute all the way through this tournament run,” Osterman said. “We’re always going to miss players, especially senior starters and junior back-ups in terms of what they do for the team, but I think we’re going to have to approach this as the next man up.”

RSM (11-0) will face an Easton Valley team with an identical record at 1 p.m., Wednesday, Nov. 10, at the UNI-Dome. Easton Valley will be making their first appearance at the UNI-Dome as they have four playoff appearances since the school was formed in 2013. Preston, which joined with East Central to form Easton Valley, did make the 8-player semifinals in 2009.

Osterman said the Hawks will have to be ready for a high-scoring passing offense which is averaging over 63 points per game.

“I know they’re a passing team,” Osterman said. “I did watch a little bit of them against Don Bosco. They’re a very aggressive defense, very good skill players, love to take their shots in the passing game. Their quarterback is very athletic. I think we have our work cut out for us going into this week in terms of getting a game plan together versus a team that’s very large up front, had their way with Don Bosco earlier in the year. I think our defense really has to come to play and I think our offense has to keep scrapping together touchdowns and hopefully we can go 1-0.”