Dec. 6—The Eau Claire Memorial football team took its lumps in its first season under the direction of coach Rob Scott. But the Old Abes handled it well and were able to go out on a high note this fall.
Memorial finished the season 2-7, with a victory over Superior in Week 6 and a rivalry win over Eau Claire North in the season finale. It was a year of building for Scott and the Old Abes.
"I think we dealt with and overcame a lot of adversity," Scott said. "Our kids, especially our seniors, have been through an awful lot over the last couple of years with COVID, a coaching change and a new coaching staff. I don't think people understand how hard that is on the kids, and I was really proud of them for staying the course and being open to new things. Their character really came through."
The Old Abes' victory against Superior came in a 12-9 defensive slugfest. Memorial scored a go-ahead touchdown on a 12-yard run from Reese Woerner with four minutes remaining. The defense forced a fumble and recovered it deep in Spartans territory to set up the score.
In the win over North, Memorial quarterback Ryan Thompson threw for four touchdowns and the defense held the Huskies to 191 yards of offense.
"It was great, No. 1 because that's a really big game in our community," Scott said. "To send our kids out, especially our seniors, on the right side in the win column was strong and gave us a lot of momentum into the offseason. Our kids are very hungry right now, and their actions are really showing it."
The Old Abes used a balanced look on offense. Reese Woerner ran for 641 yards on 162 carries to lead the ground game, while Thompson passed for 980 yards and nine touchdowns.
Defensively, linebacker Briggs Reinke was one of the top tacklers in the area. He finished with 117 takedowns.
When Memorial got in the win column, it was usually a result of finding the right combination on both sides of the ball.
"In those games we played good, complementary football," Scott said. "We held onto the ball and took it away, and no matter who you're playing, that's a huge deciding factor in what happens. I think we complemented all phases well in our wins, and one fed off the other."
Memorial will have a fairly experienced group back next year. Thompson was a junior this year, along with one of the team's top receivers in Reagan Hub and leading lineman Jackson Wubker.
"We're really excited about not only next year, but future years beyond that too," Scott said. "We have a lot of kids coming back and they've been putting the time in. They're really gelling as a group and our kids are doing everything we're asking them to do this offseason already."
The Old Abes will graduate a senior group that went through the highs and lows of prep football. From a season played in the spring earlier this year to a coaching change heading into their final season, they persevered through ups and downs.
"They won't be defined by their wins and losses, they'll be defined for how much they've done for the classes below them," Scott said. "I believe they've done an awful lot to plant that seed that the younger classes are going to take and we're going to have a lot of success in the future because of these seniors. I'm really proud of them."