Catholic high schools battle in playoff football matchup

Notre Dame Academy defeats Xavier, 21-20, to advance to WIAA Division 3 semifinals

APPLETON— A playoff matchup of football teams from diocesan high schools was decided by the slimmest of margins on Friday, Nov. 6, at Rocky Bleier Field in Appleton. Notre Dame Academy of Green Bay edged Xavier 21-20 to advance to the WIAA Division 3 state semifinals where the Tritons will play New Richmond at 7 p.m. Friday, Nov. 13 at D.C. Everest High School in Schofield.

Xavier’s John Wolske, 25, leaps over Notre Dame Academy players in an attempt to block the extra-point kick by Notre Dame Academy’s Vinny Pallini during the WIAA level 3 playoff game on Friday, Nov. 6. See photo slideshow below. To purchase photos, contact Jeannette Merten, [email protected] (Jeannette Merten | For The Compass)

Xavier, champions of the Bay Conference, led 14-7 at the half. Notre Dame scored 14 unanswered points in the second half on a nine-yard touchdown pass from Robert Petitjean to Johnny Santaga and a one-yard touchdown run by Nate Ihlenfeldt, set up by a 43-yard Santaga reception, to take a 21-14 lead.

The Hawks cut the lead to one on a 22-yard touchdown pass from Zach Simons to wide receiver Sam Burkhart with less than three minutes to play.

Xavier attempted a two-point conversion to take the lead, but Simon’s pass was broken up by Notre Dame defensive back Vinny Pallini.

Ihlenfeldt paced the Triton offense with 108 yards rushing on 28 carries. Simons led the Hawks with 237 yards passing and 45 yards on the ground.

Xavier finished the season with an 11-1 record. Notre Dame, a runnerup in the Fox River Classic Conference, improved to 10-2.