APPLETON — When football practice started in August, Matt Ferris was hoping to help lead Xavier back to the playoffs after missing the postseason a year ago.
The senior quarterback, who threw 18 TD passes as a junior, didn’t want his final high school season to end without at least one playoff start.
Early this season it was apparent Xavier was destined to make the playoffs, but along the way something else started happening – Ferris was throwing TD passes at a pace never seen in the state before.
And Friday night Ferris had a chance to enter the record books. The 6-foot-5 signal-caller had 35 TD passes and was five TD scores short of the state record for a single season and the way the Hawks sling the ball around it was realistic to think Ferris just might do it.
After a four-touchdown first half, it seemed it was a matter of time before Ferris wheeled into the record books. On Xavier’s first two drives of the third quarter, Ferris hit Matt Kinderman for TD passes – the second from 42 yards – setting a new state record with 41 TD passes.
The previous record of 40 TD passes was shared by Danny Freund of Kenosha St. Joseph's (2003), who did it in 13 games and Watertown's Tarek Yaeggi (2012), who did it in 11.
Oh yeah, and the Hawks finished the regular season at 8-1 with a 50-18 Eastern Valley Conference win over Berlin at Rocky Bleier Field.
“It feels great,” Ferris said of the record. "It’s just a result of all the hard work by myself and everyone else around me. Everybody saw something in me before I saw something in myself.”
“It’s incredible,” Xavier coach Dave Hinkens said. “Matt’s the nicest kid in the world. He broke this record in the regular season. We weren’t supposed to do anything this year, we were picked near the bottom (of the conference). Matt led us back. The state record he broke is an example of what he meant to our football team.”
Ferris threw six TD passes, five to Kinderman, but Xavier didn’t start out the scoring through the air. Running back Michael Wolske scored on a 2-yard run to give Xavier and 8-0 lead and then Ferris took over.
He connected with Dan Reinhardt on a 12-yard TD pass and followed with scoring strikes to Kinderman of 2, 39, 26, 7 and 42 yards, respectively. After the sixth TD pass, Hinkens pulled Ferris, who received hugs from everybody on the sideline.
“Obviously, I can’t throw a ball and catch the ball at the same time,” said Ferris, who was 21 of 31 for 275 yards. “We got a great set of receivers. I would argue the best in the state of Wisconsin. The offensive line keeps me clean. It’s everybody doing they’re job. It’s a team accomplishment.”
The win comes one week after Xavier, ranked No. 11 in the FOX 11 Top 11, lost at Waupaca in a game that ended up deciding the conference championship. In that game, Xavier led 20-7 only to lose the game 36-20, and allowed the most points all season and scored its fewest.
The Hawks had one week to regroup before the playoffs and a hungry Berlin team was visiting. Xavier never allowed Berlin (3-6) to get comfortable.
“It was essential to win,” Ferris aid. “This is a great win to get our momentum going. Our offense got flowing again. You don’t want to enter the playoffs with a loss. We kind of treated this game like a playoff game.”
“We played great, we answered the call,” Hinkens aid. “We were minus a lot of guys. Guys stepped up. I was really pleased how we stepped up and executed and really got after it.”
Now Xavier turns its attention to the postseason. Ferris isn’t done as his statistics in the postseason count towards his record and he’s hopeful he has many more TD passes ahead of him.
“We got the coaches and the players to get us there,” Ferris said in regards to making the Division 3 state title game. “I’m hoping to just stay along for the ride.”
With Ferris at the controls, it could be a long ride for the Hawks.
- Notes: Kinderman had 9 catches for 151 yards, while Wolske had 10 carries for 67 yards. … Xavier outgained Berlin, 425-302, but Berlin ran 68 plays to Xavier’s 66. … Xavier was 9 of 11 on third-down conversions. … Berlin was 4 for 9 in fourth-down conversions. … Berlin hasn’t made the playoffs since 2004. … Xavier has made the playoffs in 11 of the last 12 seasons. ...Ryan Viertel had an interception for Berlin.
- Game ball: Ferris, who now owns a state record.
- Numbers game: 41 TD passes for Ferris.
(11) XAVIER 50, BERLIN 18
XAV: Michael Wolske 2 yard run (2 pts. good). XAV: 8-0.
XAV: Matt Ferris 12-yard pass to Dan Reinhardt (2 pts. good). XAV: 16-0.
BER: Nick Reinsbach 8 yard run (2 pts. failed). XAV: 16-6
XAV: Ferris 2-yard pass to Matt Kinderman (2 pts. failed). XAV: 22-6.
BER: David Miracle 6 yard run (2 pts. failed). XAV: 24-12.
XAV: Ferris 39 yard pass to Kinderman (2 pts. failed). XAV: 30-12.
XAV: Ferris 26 yard pass to Kinderman (2 pts. good). XAV: 38-12
XAV: Ferris 7 yard pass to Kinderman (2 pts. failed). XAV: 44-12
XAV: Ferris 42 yard pass to Kinderman (2 pts. failed). XAV: 50-12.
BER: Miracle 2 yard run (2 pts. failed). XAV: 50-18.
Follow Doug Ritchay on Twitter @dougritchay
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