Waterloo senior running back Eugene Wolff returns a kick against Palmyra-Eagle Friday, Sept. 24.

Waterloo’s outstanding 2021 football season continued Friday, Oct. 8 with a hard-fought win over Clinton, 33-18. With the win, the Pirates are up to a 6-2 record overall and 3-2 in conference. The win makes the playoffs seem like a reality for the Pirates. To qualify for the playoffs, you must win at least 50% of your conference games. Only one more remains for Waterloo.

The Pirates did what they do best in their game with Clinton, put the ball in Eugene Wolff’s hands. The senior running back was given 28 handoffs in the game, which he turned into 127 yards and arguably the two biggest touchdowns of the game.

Wolff would eventually make a huge impact, but it was sophomore quarterback Cal Hush that started off the offensive production. He only completed six of his 16 passing attempts in this one, but he made the best of the ones that found his receivers.

Early in the first quarter, Hugh delivered the ball to sophomore Trevor Firari, who took it in from five yards out to give Waterloo an early 8-0 lead after a 2-point conversion run from Wolff. The two teams were battling, the score remained the same for the remainder of the first quarter.

This time, it was Clinton’s turn to strike early in a quarter. About three minutes into the second, junior quarterback Peyton Bingham carried the ball in from two yards out to score. An unsuccessful extra point left the score at 8-6 in favor of Waterloo.

With the lead diminished, Wolff answered the call. He orchestrated a long drive down the field, eventually punching into the endzone from one yard out. An unsuccessful 2-point conversion left the score at 14-6 with just under three minutes remaining in the first half.

With time winding down, Waterloo managed to get the ball back. With not enough time to go for a touchdown, head coach Dave Frisell opted to go for a 20-yard field goal. Hush kicked the ball and put it through the uprights, giving Waterloo a 17-6 lead heading into halftime.

Clinton wouldn’t go away quietly, however. After the two teams battle for much of the third quarter, Clinton finally struck back. Bingham connected with Abel Espinoza for a 35-yard touchdown, an unusual break from a typically stern Waterloo defense, to narrow the deficit to 12-17.

While that was a huge play for Clinton, Firari broke an even bigger one on the ensuing possession. He took a pass from Hush and sprinted 55 yards to the endzone, tacking on six more points. Wolff carried in the 2-point conversion to make it a 25-12 Waterloo lead just before the fourth quarter began.

The Cougars just wouldn’t give up, showing exceptional fight. Bingham found Espinoza again, this time for a 20-yard score. The Waterloo lead was down to 25-18, a one-score game, with under five minutes left to play.

It was Waterloo’s prerogative to burn as much time as possible in the next possession. It did that and more. Wolff did the brunt of the work, fighting for yardage to keep the clock rolling and the chains moving. Then, he iced the game. He broke a run from seven yards out and crossed the goal line with under two minutes to play. Ballgame. The 33-18 Waterloo advantage would undoubtedly be enough to survive the rest of the game.

The final game of the regular season comes Friday, Oct. 15 against Pardeeville, which should be a very even matchup.

Both the Pirates and Bulldogs have had a similar experience in Eastern Suburban Conference play this season. Both teams have only lost conference games to Marshall and Markesan, the two top teams in the conference. Pardeeville is fresh off of a 54-6 dismantling of Dodgeland last weekend.

The Bulldogs have a very potent rushing attack. They’re led by senior running backs Derek Lindert and Hayden Guenther. Lindert has been the main handoff recipient, taking 121 handoffs this season and turning them into 780 yards and 11 touchdowns. Guenther has been no slouch, turning his 90 carries into 478 yards and seven scores. Keep an eye out for Lindert on defense, too. He leads Pardeeville with three interceptions this season.

The big game is scheduled for a 7 p.m. CDT kickoff at Pardeeville High School.

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