Bittersweet blowout for Pirates as they lose star player

Port is one win from making the playoffs and in the conference title hunt but will play rest of season sans Schumacher
By 
MITCH MAERSCH
Ozaukee Press staff

The electrifying Ben Fritsch sparked Port Washington High School’s football team to another dominant victory last Friday, 61-20 over visiting Ripon.

Fritsch went 8-for-11 passing for 129 yards and three touchdowns, ran nine times for 72 yards and three touchdowns, and returned a kick 81 yards for a score. He did fumble twice, but Port recovered one.

“He’s just an explosive athlete. We made some adjustments offensively to use his legs. It’s working out,” coach John Bunyan said.

Port scored 33 points in the first quarter and the game’s first 40 points and held a 47-13 lead at half. Statistician Lester Mayer said he could not confirm that 33 points in a quarter or 47 in a half are school records.

“We’re prepared. We have great weeks of practice. We just talk about having us improve upon what we do and just go out there and execute,” Bunyan said of the team’s fast start.

Port’s defense forced eight turnovers while Ripon only recovered one Pirate fumble.

On the flip side, Port lost one of its defensive stars. Three-year starting linebacker Kaiden Schumacher, who led Port in tackles last season, fractured his ankle in two places while bringing down a Tiger.

“The kid’s so tough he actually ran off the field,” Bunyan said.

It’s the second season-ending injury Port has had in three weeks, both to senior captains who were second-team East Central Conference players last year. On Sept. 9, Port lost three-year starting quarterback Nate Uselding after he injured his knee while throwing a pass. He had surgery on Friday, Bunyan said.

Now, Port’s defensive leader ­— who scored the winning touchdown on an 85-yard fumble return at Grafton on Aug. 26 ­— will miss the rest of the season.

“It’s really disappointing. I’m bummed out for Kaiden,” Bunyan said. “It was just a freak thing. He engaged with the guy and his ankle got bent.”

Ripon managed 210 yards rushing and 84 passing, but Sam Pasten returned an interception 52 yards for a score in the fourth quarter. It was Port’s fourth defensive touchdown in five weeks, all by different players. Pasten also has registered two safeties this season, both against Waupun.

“Sam Pasten had a really good game and is coming into his own. He had the touchdown return but made other great plays on defense, too,” Bunyan said.

Bunyan applauded the play of sophomore defensive lineman Hugh Decker and said “big Casey Arendt” on the offensive line — he’s listed at 6 feet, 6 inches tall and 290 pounds — “is doing great, pancaking some kids.”

Owen Wille recovered two fumbles, and Anthony Backhaus, Matt Esselmann and Brady Krueger each recovered one.

Esselmann, Schumacher and Pasten each had an interception.

On offense, Esselmann caught three passes for 59 yards and two touchdowns, and he went 7-for-8 on extra points. Lleyton Allen had 56 yards rushing on 12 carries.

For Ripon, Ethan Stuble ran 28 times for 109 yards and went 6-for-18 passing for 84 yards, a touchdown and three interceptions.

The win moved Port to 3-1, one game from qualifying for the playoffs. The Pirates are tied for second place in the East Central Conference with Kewaskum and Plymouth. Ripon went to 0-4 in the East Central.

At least a share of the league title is possible for Port. The Pirates play at Berlin (4-0) on Oct. 14, host Plymouth (3-1) for homecoming on Oct. 7 and play at Sheboygan Falls (2-2) on Friday, Sept. 30.

“There will be some good tests here coming up,” Bunyan said.

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Wisconsin’s largest paid circulation community weekly newspaper. Serving Port Washington, Saukville, Grafton, Fredonia, Belgium, as well as Ozaukee County government. Locally owned and printed in Port Washington, Wisconsin.

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