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Green Bay Leprechauns Take Wisconsin Boys Title

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Green Bay Leprechauns Take Wisconsin Boys Title

Green Bay, in orange, had their chances but also had to defend quite a bit. Photo Jessica Dietzler.

The Green Bay Leprechauns shook up the normal balance of power in Wisconsin, defeating Chargers 31-10 in the state final,in late June.

While the scoreline appears to show that the Leprechauns were in control, this wasn't really the case, as Green Bay spent a large chunk of the game defending in their half. The Chargers, however, displayed a maddening ability to shoot themselves in the foot, either by turnovers or penalties, and the Leprechauns, who had tied the Chargers in the season opener, showed enormous patience and tenacity.

The game began as it would end, however, with Green Bay prop Curtis Downey trundling through Charger tacklers and putting Chargers on the back foot. One of those runs ended in a try for Downey, and scrumhalf James Rose converted and the Leprechauns led 7-0.

Rose, for his part, showed very wel, scampering for needed meters and also taking on the kicking duties. His attention to the tempo of the game was also key for Green Bay.

The Leprechauns then pressed their advantage, and after setting Chargers back on their heels, captain and flanker Jack Nielsen sold a rather outrageous dummy and was in under the posts. Rose converted and it was 14-0. Right after that the news got worse for the Chargers as one of their own was red-carded for striking an opponent in the face. 

Strangely, after that the Chargers were in control. For the next 30 minutes or so, ending the first half and going well into the second, the Chargers were on the front foot, asking questions of the Green Bay defense.

Early on that resulted in a long run and score for Cole Mattek and a 14-7 scoreline. But for the most part, Green Bay did just enough to defend their line. They would backpedal and then somehow  drag a ballcarrier down, which was often enough as sometimes the Chargers support was slow to get there, and Green Bay would get a penalty and get out of trouble.

With the connections not quite there the Chargers came away from all that time and territory with nothing to show for it. 

Turning Points

The turning point, in a way, came when once again Green Bay was able to kick out of danger thanks to a penalty. Rose hit it perfectly, sending the ball about 50 meters down into the Chargers 22. While the Chargers managed to get the ball back, they were under pressure and, eventually, Rose hit a penalty to make it 17-7. The Chargers came back and got a penalty of their own to make it 170-10 and then were right on the tryline looking for all the world like they would score again.

That's when wing Darius Holewinski stepped in to intercept a pass and go 95 meters to score under the posts for Green Bay. That certainly was a turning point. Rose converted and it was 24-10. Green Bay capped it off with Downey charging ahead on a tap penalty for 45 meters, and after that it was send out to Jonah Goetsch to seal it.

Downey and Rose were both huge for Green Bay, but the unsung hero was likely lock forward Gabriel Rose, who was Green Bay's go-to man in the lineout, made several very important tackles, got work done around the field, and even had a couple of effective line breaks.

A New Dawn

After their opening-week tie with the Chargers, Green Bay went undefeated, beating Muskego in the semis to set up the rematch in the championship game. This is a return to prominence for Green Bay after a few quiet years, and the return has been fueled by a burgeoning youth program that is already paying dividends.

Full game available here: