The Wolverines hosted an old fashioned harvest party Friday night.
The No. 3-ranked Bayfield High School football team harvested a bumper crop of six fumbles in the Western League home opener against No. 8 Aspen.
The Wolverines stacked the turnovers into a haystack of a 27-10 victory over the Skiers in Aspen’s first football visit to Wolverine Country Stadium.
Senior fullback TJ Pazell rushed for 211 yards and three touchdowns to lead the option attack of the Wolverines – a ground machine that totaled 373 yards against the Skiers (3-1, 1-1).
“Our offensive line was great,” said Pazell, who scored on a 20-yard run and a 1-yard run in the first half when Bayfield (4-0, 2-0) built a 14-3 lead.
“Our offensive line ... I love those guys. They worked their butts off ... to have my name in the paper, and I appreciate them for it,” said Pazell, who added a 69-yard back-breaking burst up the middle for another touchdown in the fourth quarter.
Just when Aspen’s defense tired of Pazell’s No. 3, teammate Michael Hawkins gave the Skiers double vision as No. 33 dashed up the middle for a final 83-yard Bayfield touchdown with three minutes to play in the game.
“That’s what happens when the triple option wears on teams. There are big holes to run through,” said Pazell, son of David and Stacy Pazell. “And that’s what happens when you (rotate) three fullbacks.”
Pazell and Hawkins, the fullbacks with the long touchdown runs, are Bayfield state track qualifiers in the discus and shot put, respectively.
They also contributed to a stifling BHS defense that limited the potent Aspen offense to three points – a 27-yard field goal by Erik Wehse right before halftime.
Aspen’s other score came on a fumble (what else?) when Henry Woodrow scooped up a BHS turnover and returned it 62 yards for a touchdown with 2:32 on the clock in the fourth quarter.
“(Defense) has been about focusing,” said senior linebacker Kyle Briskey, who tormented Aspen quarterback Luke Rider and tailback Casey Hornburg.
“We were just looking to stop them ... We’re Bayfield, and that’s what we do,” said Briskey, who had two second-half sacks as the Wolverines won their inaugural home game in the Western League.
Bayfield is 4-0 overall.
Hornburg finished with 50 yards rushing – on 16 punishing carries when he often encountered the likes of Briskey, Hawkins, Wyatt Williams, Ian Sandrey, Joe Zink and Zane Westbrook, among others.
“I’m very proud of each and every one of my teammates,” said Briskey, son of Hayes and Mary Briskey. “They are my brothers.”
The biggest cheer in Friday night’s victory came late in the game when crowd favorite Dominique Brittain booted the extra point after Hawkins’ 83-yard touchdown run.
“We got some great runs from our fullbacks,” Bayfield head coach Gary Heide said on his postgame radio interview. “Hats off to our fullbacks.”
He also reminded the Wolverines that Friday’s victory was another step in the journey – a path that will take them to Parachute and another key Western League game next Friday against Grand Valley.
“I know (Grand Valley coach) Mike Johnson. I coached against him when I was at Soroco ... I know they’ll be ready,” Heide said.