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Prep Football: Big plays on defense, special teams push Menomonie past Chi-Hi
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Prep Football | Menomonie 24, Chi-Hi 6

Prep Football: Big plays on defense, special teams push Menomonie past Chi-Hi

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Chi-Hi at Menomonie football 10-16-20

Chi-Hi's Isaac Frenette (9) hauls in a pass on Friday evening in Menomonie.

MENOMONIE — A few too many mistakes and an offense that took a little too long to get going doomed the Chi-Hi football team on Friday night.

The Cardinals outgained Menomonie by more than 100 yards but many of the game's big plays went the way of the home team as the Mustangs prevailed 24-6 on Friday evening at Don and Nona Williams Stadium.

Menomonie (3-1, 3-1) scored on its first two drives of the game on shorter fields before a pair of big special teams plays pushed the Mustang advantage to 24-0 one play into the second half.

"We just made too many mistakes, you can't make a mistake against Menomonie," Chi-Hi coach Chuck Raykovich said. "They're going to capitalize on it and our young kids just made a few too many tonight but they battled. They didn't quit. They came back and I'm proud of them."

The Cardinals (2-2, 2-2) were outgained 100-52 in the first half, but found more success in the second half and were able to get into the end zone on the first play of the fourth quarter when Brayden Warwick found Isaac Frenette on a 24-yard touchdown pass to close the gap to 24-6.

Frenette had a monster game for the Cardinals with 11 catches for 169 yards as quarterback Brayden Warwick threw for 233 yards on 20-of-33 completions.

Yardage was hard to come by early for the Chi-Hi offense as the team went three and out on its first six drives of the game. Set up at the Chi-Hi 28-yard line following a Mustangs punt return, Menomonie worked its way into the end zone in five plays as Devauntaye Parker rumbled in from four yards out to put the Mustangs out front first. The Mustang defense forced another quick series and got the ball back on their own 45 and moved down the field in 10 plays all on the ground ending with another four-yard score, this time from Will Ockler to double the advantage to 14-0 just shy of eight minutes into the game.

The Chi-Hi offense showed its first signs of life late in the first half as the Cardinals were able to move the ball into Mustang territory after Carsten Reeg recovered a fumble on the Menomonie 32-yard line. Back-to-back passes from Warwick to Karson Bowe and a 25-yard connection with Frenette moved the ball to the Menomonie 30 but two plays later Dominic Stellino would intercept Warwick's pass to thwart the Cardinal threat and send the game into halftime with the Mustangs holding a 17-point advantage.

"Our defense played really good again," Menomonie coach Joe LaBuda said. "Our defense has played tremendous since we got our guys back. We played Hudson with about a third of our team going and since that one we've gotten our defensive guys back and our defense has really played well. They've really flown around and played well.

"I was not real pleased with our offensive performance tonight. We started out well. Our first two drives were really good, we just hurt ourselves with way too many penalties (and) gave up too many sacks. We've got to come back and go to work offensively."

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Menomonie wasted no time adding to the lead when Parker Schultz fielded the kickoff to start the third quarter and handed the ball to Parker on a reverse and the speedy senior worked his way up the right-side sideline 95 yards for a score to push the Menomonie advantage to 24-0.

Chi-Hi was able to find the end zone on the first play of the fourth quarter set up by a big play to close the third when Jake Spaeth ran a fake punt 25 yards down to the Menomonie 24. One play later Warwick lofted a pass Frenette hauled in to get the Cardinals on the board and break Menomonie's streak of 11 consecutive quarters without allowing a score.

"We're a step off here and a step off there but we're not that far away," Raykovich said of the offense.

Owen Krista's sack on third down ended Menomonie's next drive and gave the Cardinals a chance to cut into the lead further. Chi-Hi moved into Menomonie territory but Gavin Exner stepped in front of a Warwick pass for the interception and returned it to midfield.

Chi-Hi's best chance to score came in the final minute when a 52-yard reception from Frenette off a Menomonie deflection moved the ball to the Mustang 13. But the Menomonie defense came up with one more big play, sacking Warwick to end the game.

Ockler and Parker had 60 and 50 yards, respectively, for the Mustangs as Menomonie outgained Chi-Hi on the ground 112-19 but the Cardinals held a 242-138 advantage in total yardage.

"The defense played great," Raykovich said. "The defense played great tonight. That's all that needs to be said. They really did."

Friday's contest marked the 108th all-time between the programs but was played under a small crowd amid COVID-19 related attendance limits, a far cry from the filled venues the series normally brings.

"The whole season's been weird," Raykovich said of the unique environment for the rivalry game. "Let me put it this way. Life's been weird. It's not just football, life's been weird."

Chi-Hi returns to Dorais Field next Friday for a matchup against New Richmond.

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