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Sunday

September 2014

21

Football

Meindel's leg helps Memorial reach state

Oconomowoc native has played huge role

Mitch Meindel said he was lobbying to get the football the whole game, and he finally got his chance in the second half. He even got more than he bargained for.

Meindel caught two touchdowns, but nothing was bigger than his 33-yard field goal as time expired, lifting Catholic Memorial to a thrilling 24-21 upset win over Wisconsin Lutheran at Wisconsin Lutheran College on Nov. 2. One week later, his team scored a 35-7 win over Mount Horeb/Barneveld in Level 4, clinching a berth in the WIAA Division 3 state title game.

Memorial plays at 10 a.m. Friday against Waupaca in the state championship at Camp Randall Stadium in Madison.

The Town of Oconomowoc resident has been a big part of the Crusaders uprising. His game-winning kick could be one of the more-memorable moments in all of the postseason this year.

"I was thinking it's just like practice, just another kick," said Meindel, whose liner went through without a doubt. "If I go through the motion, it will be good. I have nightmares about that kind of thing. It's not what you want to do, but if you have to, you want to be able to produce."

Meindel's leg is his greatest attribute. Committed to kick for North Dakota next year, Meindel also happens to be a tremendous punter. He already had a 56-yard punt earlier in the game against Wisconsin Lutheran when he sent a 64-yard boomer down to the Wisco 1-yard line with 8:51 to play.

On fourth-and-1 from the 10 and leading, 21-14, Wisconsin Lutheran (10-1) elected to go for the first down and fell short, with Justin Dentici and Jake Drwila stopping the rushing attempt.

Memorial (9-2) faced its own fourth-down play from the one-yard line four plays later, but John Clark plunged in to tie the score at 21-21. Memorial fell earlier in the season to Mukwonago, 14-13, after a failed 2-point conversion late in the game, but this time, the Crusaders played it safe and let Meindel knot the score.

That decision paid off handsomely when Alec Kocour intercepted Wisconsin Lutheran quarterback Zach Evans on a tipped pass with 2:50 to play on the Wisco 40-yard line.

The Crusaders used six plays to inch into Meindel's range and drain the clock.

"We yanked him out of the game, put in one of his backups and warmed (him) up," coach Bill Young said. "We took it down to three seconds, hit it, game over."

It was the first time Memorial had led all night.

"That's average, that's my comfort range right there," Meindel said. "If it had been 10 yards more, it would have been nerve-racking."

There was no such drama last Saturday at Kettle Moraine against Mount Horeb/Barneveld, whose only loss had come by a 13-10 score against three-time defending Division 2 state champ Waunakee. Meindel cashed in on all five extra-point attempts, and the Crusaders' defense did not allow any second-half points.

Considering the team was down 14-0 at halftime the preceding week, it's amazing CMH even had a chance to be there. CMH finally got on the board with 7:08 to go in the third quarter, when quarterback Pat White found Meindel wide open for a 71-yard touchdown reception. The ball slipped out of Meindel's hands on the one-yard line, but he quickly pounced on top.

"I was telling coach to give me the ball the whole game," Meindel said with a smile. "They were triple teaming Andre (Bodden) on the other side, so I was one-on-one the whole game. I thought I could get him, and I did."

After a three-and-out, the Crusaders had another long touchdown play negated by an illegal procedure, but Memorial was able to keep the drive alive and scored on a 31-yard reception from Meindel to tie the game.

"It was just one of those things where we kept plugging along," Young said. "We had those deer eyes (in the first half). It was ugly, but I can't say enough about my kids and coaches."

Said Meindel, "We figured at halftime it was only 14. We have an explosive offense. We can score quickly, and we did. … We knew we had a good team at the beginning of the year, and now we have a chance to prove it."

The win was the second consecutive playoff victory over an undefeated team. Memorial also upset Pewaukee the week before, 21-0. Now, Meindel gets to demonstrate his abilities on the state's biggest stage.

"He's a terrific kid," Young said. "He has a blast playing football. He's unbelievable."

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