MADISON − There weren’t many downtrodden faces among the Shiocton football team Thursday.
Sure, the Chiefs had just lost to a powerful Eau Claire Regis team 41-7 in the WIAA Division 7 state title game, but the Chiefs’ coaches and players preferred to look at the exciting journey to get to Camp Randall Stadium rather than the loss to the Ramblers.
“It didn’t turn out how we wanted but the season overall … what an experience,” Shiocton senior Dylan Herb said. “We came out here and battled and Regis, they’re a good team. They got what they deserved. This season was good. Our team was unbelievable and I wouldn’t have wanted to play with anybody else.”
The fact that Shiocton was in the title game probably came as a surprise to most football enthusiasts around the state. The Chiefs were a No. 2 seed in their playoff quadrant but upset defending D7 state champ Reedsville 21-0 in the second round before dispatching back-to-back undefeated and No. 1 seeds Cambria-Friesland (32-14) and Cashton (21-19) in the quarterfinal and semifinal rounds, respectively.
“We were consistently picked to lose and it was a great motivator,” Shiocton coach Brock Pahlow said. “And it really showed to their character and resiliency on that. Even with the odds stacked against them and with the lack of support from outside factors, they were like, ‘We know our game and we know that we have this.'”
Said Herb: “Underdogs. We loved that. We proved everybody wrong getting to this game.”
The Chiefs’ stunning playoff run came to a loggerhead with Regis, one of the premier small-school powers. The Ramblers scored on the game’s first play on a 65-yard touchdown run from Zander Rockow. Regis would score on four of its first five possessions with Rockow also adding a 6-yard touchdown.
Rockow, a 6-foot-2, 235-pound senior, set the Division 7 state final record with 251 yards on 16 carries. He added a winding, 73-yard touchdown run in the fourth quarter to cap the scoring from Regis.
“We fell off our own wagon there,” Pahlow said. “We didn’t really do what we scripted and I do think that it comes to Regis just being a physical team. Those guys are clearly in the weight room quite a bit and I think that really speaks to their physicality. I’m insanely proud of the way our guys played, but I think that physicality showed throughout the game.”
The Ramblers also got 51 yards and a touchdown from Carson Tait, who also scored on a reception.
Regis held the Chiefs’ offense to under 100 yards until late in the third quarter. Shiocton finished with 227 total yards but also had a pair of interceptions. Regis totaled 467 yards of offense, including 342 on the ground.
Cade Stingle scored Shiocton’s touchdown on a 4-yard run in the fourth quarter.
“They were a great team,” Stingle said of Regis. “I know we were playing a good team and they performed very well. I’m very glad we got to play them. I wouldn’t want to play anyone else. It was really fun. Loved every moment of it.”
Shiocton was making its fourth state finals appearance and first since 2013, when it won the Division 6 title. Shiocton has also been runner-up in D6, in 1983 and 2011.
“We’re just a hardworking team that never gives up. We just keep pushing ourselves and better ourselves all year,” Stingle said. “We succeeded and I couldn’t have been more proud of this team.”
Senior quarterback Dawson Schmidt said he made memories with his younger brother, junior receiver Bennett Schmidt.
“We’ve been playing backyard football since we were very little,” Dawson said. “So that’s really fun to share these moments with him and something definitely we’re going to be looking back on and laughing and enjoying that.”
Shiocton 0 0 0 7 — 7
Regis 14 14 7 6 – 41
R – Zander Rockow 65 run (run failed)
R – Carson Tait 33 pass from Kendon Krogman (Josh Brickner run)
R – Tait 35 run (Alex Erickson kick)
R – Rockow 6 run (Erickson kick)
R – Spencer Gehling 35 pass from Krogman (Erickson kick)
R – Rockow 73 run (kick failed)
S – Cade Stingle 4 run (Bennett Schmidt kick)
Rushing – Shiocton: Stingle 19-55, Dion Helser 7-25, Dawson Schmidt 5-27. Regis: Rockow 16-251, Tait 4-51, Josh Brickner 3-17, Kolton Rockow 3-10.
Passing – Shiocton: Dawson Schmidt 15-22-2-134. Regis: Krogman 6-10-0-125.
Receiving – Shiocton: Cody Young 5-28, Bennett Schmidt 4-51, Stingle 4-29, Dylan Herb 2-26. Regis: Alex Figy 2-21, Gehling 1-35, Tait 1-33, Alex Ciulla 1-26, Z. Rockow 1-10.
This content was originally published here.