Answering the call

Early offense, late defense lead Posen past Onaway

News Photo by James Andersen Posen player George Kroll, center, attempts to wrap up Onaway quarterback Gavin Fenstermaker, far, right, along with teammates Ben Delekta (56) and Cameron Paull during the first half of an eight-player football game on Friday at Onaway High School.

ONAWAY–Offense got the Posen football team out to a big lead on Friday.

But defense made sure the Vikings kept it.

The Vikings recovered a muffed punt late in the fourth quarter and Mark Wisniewski scored a short time later on a one-yard plunge to ice the game for Posen and give the Vikings a 32-20 victory over Onaway at Onaway High School.

Wisniewski and Sam Brunet each had a pair of rushing touchdowns and George Kroll had one for the Vikings (3-0) who are undefeated through three games for the first time since 2015.

“That’s what you love about football right there,” Posen coach Greg Pietsch said. “The energy of this game, it was intense. The second half of this game, our guys rose up and that’s what you have to do. We did it and I’m proud of them.”

With its offense rolling early, Posen built a 26-8 halftime lead and seemed to be in control. But the second half turned into a defensive battle that saw the Cardinals (2-1) pull to within six when Gavin Fenstermaker scored on a one-yard with 9:15 left.

Posen fumbled the ensuing kickoff and Onaway recovered. Dawson Hilliker appeared to score on a 21-yard reverse midway through the drive, but the Cardinals were called for an illegal procedure penalty and Onaway eventually turned the ball over on downs.

“Our defense really stepped it up. I thought we had a really good game plan,” Pietsch said. “We have some athletes, some speed (and) they made plays and that’s what we keep telling them is just to do your job and tackle.”

Posen went three-and-out on its next drive, but the Vikings made a heads-up play when a punt on fourth down bounced off Onaway’s Daniel Price as the Cardinals were trying to get out of the ball’s path.

Posen recovered at its own 30 yard line and eight plays later Wisniewski found the end zone for the second time to give Posen enough cushion to preserve the win.

“I told the kids at halftime this group still needs some time to mature, but they’ve always been winners,” Pietsch said. “They always play to win and they hate to lose and that’s what we did. We just executed, grinded it out, and were able to put together a nice ball-control drive and punch it in.”

Wisniewski finished the night with 137 yards and two scores on 35 carries. Brunet led the Vikings on the ground with 223 yards and a touchdown on 20 carries.

After Posen punted on its first third-quarter drive, Fenstermaker needed just three plays to find some space and race 35 yards to pay dirt to make it 26-14 with 8:21 left in the third quarter.

Fenstermaker led Onaway on the ground with 116 yards and two scores on 19 carries.

“They (Hilliker and Fenstermaker) bring us that senior leadership and they’re just very athletic,” Onaway coach Steve Klinge said.

Both teams turned the ball over on downs and Onaway eventually recovered a fumble late in the third quarter, but couldn’t convert on the turnover.

Posen scored on four consecutive drives in the first half to build a big lead. Brunet scored after a long opening drive on a three-yard run and Wisniewski scored from seven yards out late in the first quarter. Posen led 14-0 early in the second quarter after a conversion run from Kroll.

Hilliker cut into Posen’s lead with an 18-yard touchdown run with 9:09 left in the half and caught a conversion pass to make it 14-8.

The Vikings answered back quickly however as Kroll capped another long drive with a one-yard scoring plunge. On Onaway’s next drive, Fenstermaker fumbled and Eyan Hincka recovered.

One play later, Brunet found space and raced 40 yards for another score, putting a cap on an impressive first half.

Onaway’s offense stalled in the first half as the Cardinals lost two fumbles, punted twice, scored once and turned the ball over on downs once.

With Fenstermaker leading the way however, the Cardinals were able to mount an impressive second half comeback.

“I can’t fault them for the way they played. They had every reason after the first half to kind of say, ‘Well, it’s over,'” Klinge said. “We had a lot of chances, we just couldn’t capitalize.”

Posen’s win Friday evened the series at 2-2 for the two Presque Isle County rivals since 2015.

Posen plays at Atlanta on Thursday and Onaway hosts Pellston next Saturday.