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Central Wisconsin Battles

Great football battles within the Wisconsin Valley Conference were common. Not just some blowouts but I mean, close games that often turned on a dime. Some of those close battles were between D.C. Everest and Wisconsin Rapids Lincoln. The events pitted two Hall of Fame coaches, Wayne Steffenhagen of Everest and Ken Biegel of Rapids. Year in and year out the two fought for the conference title and a chance to go to the playoffs. Sometimes they did and sometimes not but for the most part the 1990s were classic, close battles between the two schools.

Oct. 5, 1990…Wisconsin Rapids was leading 20-3 early in the second half, but D.C. Everest cut the lead to 20-15. With 9:31 left in the fourth quarter the Evergreens mounted a drive. They drove down to the Red Raiders 11-yard line with less than two minutes left but a fourth down pass was batted down and Rapids hung on for the win. The Raiders would post an 8-2 record on the year to tie for the conference title but lose in the first round of the D1 playoffs.

Oct. 4, 1991…Trailing 7-6 with 2:07 left in the game, Wisconsin Rapids started on their own 20-yard line and mounted a great drive down to the Everest one. Then, sophomore Brian Siegmann kicked a field goal with :05 left in the game for a 9-7 Raider win. The two teams would end up tied for the conference title but both lost in the first round of the playoffs.

Oct. 2,1992…Leading 14-10 at half-time. the D.C. Everest Evergreens roared to five third quarter touchdowns and won 49-16. Antigo won the conference title but neither Everest or Rapids made the playoffs.

Sept. 24, 1993…D.C. Everest won 21-16 as they held on for a road victory. Ken Biegel decided not to punt on fourth-and-two on their own 20-yard line. Brian Siegmann was now the team quarterback and he lost seven-yards on the play. Evergreen back Jason Hurd ran for the 13-yard touchdown on the next play as Everest surged ahead, 20-9. The Raiders would score a touchdown but their comeback fell short. Neither team advanced to the playoffs as Stevens Point won the WVC title.

Sept. 23, 1994…Just as in 1991, Lincoln beat D.C. Everest with a last second field goal. Shad Williams kicked a 37-yard field goal with one second left on the clock. The Red Raiders swept through the rest of the conference schedule to win the WVC title. After the game Ken Biegel predicted that they would meet again that season and they did.

Oct. 30. 1994…Sure enough, six weeks later in the second round of the playoffs the 10-0 Wisconsin Rapids faced 9-1 D.C. Everest. This time the Evergreens bulled their way to take the victory. The Red Raiders were down 32-7 at halftime but made it close, 45-37 with 50-seconds left. Evergreen defensive back Tim Strehlow intercepted a pass by Lincoln’s Mike Hamilton on a second and two play from the five-yard-line. Strehlow returned the ball 100-yards for the clinching touchdown. The final score was 53-37. Wayne Steffenhagen directed Everest to the state semifinals.

Sept. 15, 1995…This game helped Schofield to win the first of four consecutive Valley titles. A late fourth quarter touchdown got Wisconsin Rapids within a score. Lincoln was able to get the ball back and they drove to the Everest 26-yard line. A mix-up in the backfield resulted in a fumble with the Evergreens recovering to clinch the win, 27-20. Under the old playoff system and even with a 7-2 record, Rapids failed to make the playoffs and Everest would lose in the first round.

Sept. 20, 1996…The Evergreens led 35-0 after three quarters and coasted to a 35-12 win. They would advance to the state championship game, losing to Hartland Arrowhead. Lincoln had their only losing season of the 90s in an injury plagued year.

Sept. 5, 1997…This season involved a third team in the mix. That team being Marshfield. In week 2 Wisconsin Rapids played D.C. Everest and the Evergreens pulled out a 37-30 win. There were seven lead changes in the game with Everest down 30-29 with 28 seconds left in the game when halfback Lance Gast tossed a 49-yard option pass to Curt Kazba in the end zone for the win. Where Marshfield comes in is as follows: Three weeks after the Red Raiders lost to the Evergreens, they eked out a 3-0 win over Marshfield. The following week Marshfield lost 24-13 to Everest. As the regular season ended D.C. Everest finished #1 with a 8-1 record (Their only loss was a week 3 non-conference loss to Menominee, MI) and Wisconsin Rapids finished 8-1 and #2 in the Valley. Marshfield ended up #3 in the conference and a 7-2 record. The conference was strong.

The playoffs began and all three trams won their opening round games. In Level 2 Marshfield faced Schofield D.C. Everest and was leading 22-19 with 2:17 left to go in the game when the Marshfield Tigers mounted an 85-yard, 14-play drive to score with six seconds to go. Level 3 pitted the Red Raiders against Marshfield. The Tigers pulled the win out on a game winning touchdown pass with 27 seconds remaining in the game and a 26-21 victory. Marshfield would win their next two games and end the season with a 12-2 record as they beat an undefeated Oak Creek 21-14 for the Division 1 title. Few teams have come back from a two-loss season to win a title. The Valley was super tough in 1997.

Sept. 6, 1998…The biggest game ever played in the Wisconsin Valley Conference history. Nine conference records were set or tied. Among the records was the 1,311 yards the two teams gained. The Evergreens had three separate leads of 20-points or more in the game but they couldn’t hold back the Red Raiders until the final whistle in the Everest 70-63 win. Evergreen wide receiver Derek Abney caught 10 passes for 198 yards and three touchdowns. Running back Jesse Spatz carried the ball 30 times for 282 yards and four touchdowns. Lincoln running back Nathan Dahl gained 447 yards rushing, receiving and returning kicks while scoring seven times. Coach Biegel again, as in 1994, predicted after the game that they would meet again and they would.

Nov. 13, 1998…The two teams met in a Level 4 game and it was a 24-21 victory for Everest. Rapids took a 3-0 lead then gave up two first half touchdowns before they could get a score of their own. The raiders got close in the third quarter but that was it. The Evergreen’s were now 13-0 and they advanced to the state finals where Everest beat Oak Creek 14-12.

Aug. 27, 1999…The two teams met in the season opener and it was all Schofield D.C. Everest, a 24-7 win. The Evergreens led throughout the game and it wasn’t until the fourth quarter that The Red Raiders were to cross the goal line. The two teams finished with a 6-2 conference record and they tied with Stevens Point for second place. The two also lost in the first round of the playoffs. Just a note, Marshfield finished in first place and was 13-0 until they lost in the state finals to undefeated (14-0) Homestead.

The 1990s was a decade of exciting games between the two schools. This was a great time in the Wisconsin Valley Conference and the two teams played classic games year in and year out against each other. 1999 was Ken Biegels last season coaching. He posted a career record of 214-95-4 in 35 years of coaching with one state runner-up and seven conference titles. Wayne Steffenhagen continued on until 2010 and retired with a 278-80-0 record and state titles in 1981, 1983, 1989 and 1998 with a runner-up place in 1996 in his 34 seasons as the head coach at D.C. Everest. Wayne recently passed away this past February.

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