FOOTBALL: Herscher’s ride ends in semifinals
HERSCHER — Throughout its playoff run, Herscher was an underdog whose bite was much worse than its bark.
However, the 15-seeded underdog ran into the top dog in Class 3A with an even bigger bite and ultimately saw it’s playoff run come to an end with a 42-0 loss at the hands of Byron in a Class 3A state semifinal.
“I couldn’t be more proud of the character and resiliency these guys showed all season,” Herscher coach Dan Wetzel said. ” The last couple of years we had a great team that rolled over some teams until the quarterfinals. They’re really a scrappy bunch of kids. They hung together through some tough times and overcame everything to make the playoffs.”
Byron scored all 42 points in the first, including 28 points off of turnovers.
Herscher fumbled on the third play of the game, which led to a four-yard touchdown from Drake Snodgrass to put Byron ahead 7-0.
Later down 19-0 following an 11-yard rushing touchdown from Issac Stickler and a 28-yard passing touchdown, Byron came up with an interception that turned into a one-yard score from Ricky Messling.
“We competed, but (Byron) is a really good football team,” Wetzel said. “We got off to a bad start with some fumbles and field position. Good football teams like (Byron) capitalize on that which they did. They scored early and often and we had no answer for them. The kids fought and that’s all we can ask them to do.”
Herscher had a couple chances to keep drives alive on fourth down, but both times the pass hit the receiver in the hands only for the ball to hit the turf.
Byron scored off both failed attempts to end the scoring for the day and close the door on Herscher’s season.
“If you would have took us 13 weeks ago that we’d be here hosting a semifinal, it would have been hard to believe,” Wetzel said. “But this team bounced back and showed what it’s made of. This is definitely one of the top five teams I’ve coached. We did it the hard way but there were so many life lessons and they played the game the right way.”
Although the outcome of the game was not what Herscher aimed for, the Tigers did exit the field with one sliver lining.
All-State running back Matt Dorsey ran himself into the school history books after gaining 139 yards on the ground and shattered the record for most rushing yards in a single-season.
Dorsey was one of just a handful of returning players from last season’s 10-2 Class 4A quarterfinal team.
However, he was a slot receiver last year and took over duties in the backfield. Needless to say, that transition went very smoothly.
“It was different, but I knew what I had to do,” Dorsey said. “I had to get the job done and work for my teammates. I trusted them, they trusted me and it got us all the way here.”
Of all the great running backs that have donned Tiger gold and black, Dorsey sits at the very top of the list now with 1,773 rushing yards and 17 touchdowns.
And of course he’ll take no credit for cementing his name in the history books.
“It’s a great feeling,” Dorsey said. “However, as much as I’d love to say every single yard was myself, I know it wasn’t. All I did was carry the ball. It was the guys up front, those five offensive lineman who did all the work and got me there. I couldn’t be more grateful for a better offensive line.”