After losing at Waterford in Week 4, the Wilmot football team knew it just had to put its head down and keep winning games if it wanted a chance to catch the Wolverines for a share of the Southern Lakes Conference title.
On the last night of the regular season, Wilmot finally caught up.
The Panthers were tested on the road by a game Delavan-Darien squad but scored a late touchdown to pull out a 14-7 victory to win their fifth straight game and finish their regular season 8-1 overall and 6-1 in the SLC.
Badger lends a hand
In the meantime, Lake Geneva Badger lent Wilmot the help it needed.
The Badgers controlled the ball for the majority of the game with their option attack and knocked off the previously undefeated Wolverines, 17-7, on Friday night in Lake Geneva.
Wilmot’s win and Waterford’s loss created a share of the SLC title, as both teams wound up atop the conference at 6-1.
It’s Wilmot’s first share of the conference title since 2014.
“It feels great,” Wilmot coach Keiya Square said in a postgame phone interview. “It’s one of those things that at the beginning of the year we talked about. We had the hiccup early against Waterford, and we had to continue to do what we do and see how the chips fall. That Badger-Waterford rivalry, those are always close games, so there’s always a shot. We did enough to win tonight, and Badger did what (it) had to do. It feels good.
“You lose a game, all we can do from there is win and see how the rest of the conference shakes out. … It’s just a testament to our kids and how they continued to work and believe in what we were doing. It worked out for us this year.”
The Panthers had already qualified for the WIAA Division-2 playoff field, their 10th consecutive berth, and had put themselves in great position to host a first-round postseason game.
Second-seeded Wilmot will open the postseason with a home game against Milwaukee Ronald Reagan, a No. 7 seed, at 7 p.m. Friday. The winner will take on either third-seeded Waukesha West or No. 6 Kettle Moraine.
Square said Wilmot athletic director Herm Christiansen kept him apprised of the proceedings between Badger and Waterford, but meanwhile Wilmot had its hands full with the Comets (2-7 overall, 1-6 SLC).
“We were up 7-0, weren’t playing the greatest,” Square said. “Delavan was playing really well and giving us a lot of fits.”
Finally, when the game was sealed, Square went to Christiansen for a final update.
“‘Yeah, the game was final 15 minutes ago. Waterford lost,’” Square said of Christiansen’s final update. “And that’s when it kind of hit me, ‘Hey, we’re conference champs.’”
Comets hang tough
It certainly took everything the Panthers had against the Comets, though.
Delavan-Darien tied the game at 7-7 late in the fourth quarter before Wilmot junior speedster Leo Falletti made two big plays.
First, Falletti returned the kickoff following the Comets’ touchdown out near the 50-yard line. On the next play, Wilmot senior quarterback Zack Watson connected with Falletti on a pass to the flat, and Falletti raced the rest of the way for the go-ahead touchdown with about 2 minutes left.
Wilmot senior Joey Tanski sealed the win with his fifth interception of the season.