MADISON — Tristan Root stood alone at the Regis’ 16-yard line as the final seconds of the Division 6 state championship game ticked away.
His head hung as he rested for a moment with his hands on his knees. For 14 games, Root did everything he possibly could for the Ramblers. He carried the ball 126 times for 1,066 yards and 20 touchdowns. He kicked. He even got a few opportunities to chuck the ball downfield and hit on four of them. On defense, he snagged three interceptions.
But as the clock struck zero, there was nothing more he could do. St. Mary’s Springs’ defense proved too dominant and the Ramblers never found the end zone, falling 7-0 on Thursday at Camp Randall.
“I think he’s one of the best players in the state,” Regis coach Bryant Brenner said. “He’s worked his tail off, he’s gotten everything he could out of his body. He’s worked as hard as anybody we’ve had.”
It was a moment of reflection for Root. He knew this would be his final football game for the Ramblers, but he had hoped for a different outcome. For him, this year was special.
“Everyone showed how much we loved each other,” he said. “It taught us a lot of lessons, not the wins or the losses, but the lessons we learned as a team.”
On the field, this 2020 senior class was one of the most prolific in school history. They lost just five games in four years and made a pair of trips to Madison, once coming home with a title.
“What I’m going to take away is how hard they’ve worked and the bonds that have been developed from all that work,” Brenner said of his 11 seniors. “It’s a great group of kids.”
Against the Ledgers, there was just nothing the Ramblers could do offensively. They moved the ball for just 134 yards, less than half of their season average of 333 yards per game. Their prolific running game was held in check, with Root, Hayden Reinders, Gus Theisen and Aaron Haselwander combining for just 131 yards on 43 carries, and quarterback Bennett Seelen was forced to exit the game with a sprained ankle in the second quarter.
The Ramblers did have a pair of chances to score in the third and four quarters when a pair of double pitches gave Root two opportunities to connect with receivers deep.
Both times the Ramblers had players open, but both passes were slightly under thrown and neither receiver could come down with the ball. The Ramblers’ lone completion of the game came on a three-yard screen pass from backup quarterback JT Koestler to Root.
“I feel like we let them down offensively,” Brenner said. “That’s on me. We have to find a way to put the ball in the end zone.”
Defensively, the Ramblers were nearly flawless.
St. Mary’s Springs came out of the gate ready from the first snap. They took over with the ball at the 20-yard-line and drove the length of the field in 19 plays, eating up almost the entire first quarter before Marcus Orlandoni punched it in from one yard out to give the Ledgers a 7-0 lead.
After that, Regis shut them down, allowing just 87 yards after the Ledger’s opening drive.
“We just really fought hard against them,” Root said. “Our energy just kicked back up and we decided to fight until the end.”
The Ramblers’ final chance to score came with 3:56 left in the fourth quarter. Regis got the ball back at the Ramblers’ 34 after a three-and-out by the Ledgers. Reinders and Root quickly moved the ball 10 yards to the Regis 44, but a holding call on first-and-10 doomed the drive and Regis eventually fumbled on third-and-19.
The Ledgers took over and after two short runs, they put the game away by converting a third-and-4 with a five-yard run from Orlandoni.
“We just kept fighting until the very last play,” Haselwander said.
It was Regis’ second state title loss to St. Mary’s Springs in eight years. The Ledgers took down Regis 24-14 back in 2012 to clinch the Division 6 title. St. Mary’s Springs, already Wisconsin’s leader in WIAA state titles, earned its ninth all-time and third straight.
St. Mary’s Springs 7, Regis 0
St. Mary’s Springs 7 0 0 0 — 7
Regis 0 0 0 0 — 0
SMS: Marcus Orlandoni 1 run (Ben Fouch kick), 1:51
Team & Individual Statistics
RUSHING (att-yds): St. Mary’s Springs (49-156): Marcus Orlandoni 20-75, David Mueller 14-57, Isaac Hyland 9-21, Braydon King 4-5; Regis (43-131): Tristan Root 21-82, Hayden Reinders 11-36, Gus Theisen 6-12, Aaron Haselwander 5-1.
PASSING (comp-att-int-yds): St. Mary’s Springs (1-3-1-11): Braydon King 1-3-1-11; Regis (1-5-0-3): Tristan Root 0-3-0-0, JT Koestler 1-2-0-3.
RECEIVING (rec-yds): Abbotsford (1-11): Aidan Ottery 1-11; Regis (1-3): Luke Rooney 1-3.