4 straight titles

Last night the West DePere Phantoms were not going to be denied.  In overcoming a stiff challenge from the New London Bulldogs, they accomplished something historic in the Bay – 4 straight titles.

Image via Wisconsin High School Helmets (www.mghelmets.com)

Image via Wisconsin High School Helmets (www.mghelmets.com)

By a unanimous show of hands — four fingers extended, thumb tucked behind — the West De Pere players signaled their historic accomplishment in a post-game celebration Thursday.

The Phantoms beat New London 22-8 in a regular-season finale to become the first team in 40 years of Bay Conference football to win four straight league titles.

“I’m a senior, so 4-for-4 is just a great feeling,” defensive tackle Nick Delaney said.

West De Pere survived its stiffest challenge in an eight-game winning streak to share this year’s Bay title with Seymour and Shawano. All had 7-1 conference records.

What did Coach T think of the historic accomplishment?

“They can’t ever take it away,” 35th-year Phantoms coach Bill Turnquist said. “It’s a lot of satisfaction for West De Pere.”

“Our kids played with their backs against the wall the whole season,” Turnquist said. “They had to improve and be sharp all of the way down the line.”

There was doubt this feat could be accomplished after a stunning OT loss to the Seymour Thunder in week 1.  But the team responded to what may have been a wake-up call.  The team not only won every remaining game, it outscored opponents 351-95.

The New London game was a stiff challenge though, especially when the Bulldogs scored 1st.  But it lit a fire under the Phantoms who responded.

“That might have helped us,” said West De Pere quarterback Michael Linssen, who threw for three touchdowns. “Our whole team was dead in the beginning. That gave us a lot of energy and a lot of fire to go out there and do something.”

Linssen needed only three plays in the Phantoms’ first series to counter the score, hooking up with Travis Mason down the middle of the field for a 60-yard touchdown to cut the deficit to 8-7.

Linssen lofted a perfect ball to Mason in the back corner of the end zone on third-and-goal from the Bulldogs’ 8-yard line early in the second quarter for a 13-8 advantage.

Then came the turning point following a Linssen interception.

New London took over at its 2 late in the first half, but Delaney stuffed Anderson in the end zone for a safety that bumped the Phantoms lead to 15-8.

“It pumped up the whole team,” Delaney said. “I feel like it was a turning point in the game for me; it got me jacked up.”

Zak Rottier returned the ensuing free kick 34 yards to the New London 35, and West De Pere cashed in right before halftime with an 11-yard touchdown throw from Linssen to Jay Tollefson.

This was a night to lean on that aggressive defense as the Phantoms’ ground game was stifled by the Bulldogs, which rose to the challenge.

An aggressive Phantoms defense twice kept New London from scoring in the red zone after its initial score.

West De Pere also picked off two passes by Hass, who was 13 of 29 for 222 yards. (Source: Bay football: Phantoms’ title string reaches 4 – Green Bay Press-Gazette)

Congratulations to the now 13-time Bay Conference champion West DePere Phantoms.

Next up: the playoffs and hopefully a state title run.

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