Junior quarterback tosses career-high five touchdown passes as Raccoons roll up 359 yards in total offense
Down 14-7 at the half, the OHS varsity football team exploded for 30 second-half points Friday night to surprise Kettle Moraine, 37-20, in the season opener for both teams.
In earning the win, the Raccoons rode the arm of junior quarterback Ben Nienhuis who threw for a career-high five touchdown passes as OHS racked up 359 yards of total offense.
KM, which last season defeated OHS in the 2014 opener, 14-7, countered with a weak net of 52 yards rushing and 73 yards passing for only 125 yards of total offense as the Cooney defense, which struggled to contain KM’s spread offense last season, did the job Friday night
Nienhuis, who attempted 37 passes, another career high, completed 23 of those attempts as Cooney head coach Ryan McMillen went to the air early and often.
Seven different players caught passes from Nienhuis as OHS won despite the absence of its top player, junior wide receiver Zach Clayton. Clayton, the Wisconsin Little Ten conference’s top receiver last season as a sophomore, dressed but did not play.
Instead, Cooney players, Nicholas Lambert, Brett Samson, Ethan Wegner, Jake Rams, Casey Zwart, Aaron Kruschke, and Christian Gurule all hauled in passes to fill the void caused by Clayton’s absence.
Wegner grabbed two of Neinhuis’ TD passes and Samson, Lambert, and Zwart each snared a Cooney TD catch.
OHS scored first in the first quarter when Nienhuis threw a perfect fade pattern to Zwart just inside the KM end zone. Zwart, a senior, had two defenders beat by a couple of steps and Neinhuis’ pass was on the mark for the 23-yard scoring play.
KM countered in the second quarter with two answering touchdowns to take a 14-7 lead at the half. OHS opened the third quarter with a score of its own when senior Ethan Wegner, a member of the school’s varsity basketball team last season, out-fought a KM defender for a ball from Neinhuis. That evened the score at 14-14 before Nienhuis found tight end Brett Samson in the end zone for 10 yards and another score, giving OHS back the lead at 20-14. Carson Roseliep’s PAT kick left the score 21-14 in favor of the visitors.
Kettle Moraine battled back to score another touchdown, but its PAT was no good, giving OHS a slim, one-point 21-20 lead, still in the third quarter. Looking for some critical breathing room, Nienhuis hooked up with Nick Lambert for a 9-yard TD. On the play, Nienhuis threw a pass out to Lambert in the left flat and the senior avoided two KM tacklers to score.
Roseliep’s PAT was blocked, leaving the score 27-20 in favor of the Raccoons.
Nienhuis then found Wegner again, this time just in the end zone on the KM side of the field. Wegner had a defender on his hip, but he was able to shield himself and the ball from a KM defender for the score. Roseliep’s extra point left OHS up, 34-20, before Roseliep kicked a field goal in the fourth quarter for Oconomowoc’s final points.
With the win, OHS matched its win total for all of last season when it finished 1-6 in the WLT.
OHS faces another Classic Eight foe on Thursday night, at 7 p.m., at Ed Rux Stadium, when it takes on Waukesha South in another matchup featuring teams from the WLT and the Classic Eight.