St. Mary’s Springs coach Bob Hyland, the winningest coach in state history, talks to his team during the WIAA Division 6 state championship game on Thursday, Nov. 18, in Madison. (Photos by David Bernacchi)

For the past decade, St. Mary’s Springs has run roughshod over small-school WIAA football, winning state titles in 2011, 2012, 2014, 2015, 2017, 2018 and 2019.

On Thursday, Nov. 18, Colby (making its first state championship appearance since winning the Division 5 title in 2011) had the perfect antidote for the Ledgers.

That antidote was running back/linebacker Brent Jeske.

Jeske scored three touchdowns in the game’s first 13 minutes as the Hornets rolled to a 22-7 victory in the WIAA Division 6 championship game at Camp Randall Stadium in Madison.

In the first quarter, Jeske scored on runs of 4 yards and 1 yard at the 10:02 mark and 5:04, respectively. Jeske gave the Hornets a 20-0 lead with 11:21 remaining in the first half when he picked up a fumble and returned it 63 yards. Jeske finished with 130 yards rushing on 25 carries to lead the Hornets.

St. Mary’s Springs cut the deficit to 20-7 with 3:42 left in the first half when Levi Huempfner completed a three-play, 76-yard drive with  52-yard scoring rush. Huempfner had 83 yards on nine carries, while Isaac Hyland led the Ledgers with 91 yards on 15 carries.

Despite getting within striking distance, the Ledgers, who were held to 207 yards on the day, only had 53 yards in the second half. They never got into Colby territory in the second half.

Colby took its opening possession of the second half, after a Springs punt, and drove to the Ledgers’ 22-yard line on a 13-play drive that took 6:28 off the clock. During the game, the Hornets missed two field goals and won the time-of-possession battle 30:18-16:42.

St. Mary’s Springs finished the season with an 11-3 mark, reaching the title game with a 35-24 comeback win over Darlington in Level 4. They split a three-way share of the Wisconsin Flyway Conference with Campbellsport and Mayville.

The Ledgers were making their WIAA record 13th state championship appearance. They have nine total WIAA championships since joining the organization in 2000 – they also won in 2002 and 2009. When they were in WISAA, they won eight state championships (1983, 1984, 1990, 1991, 1995, 1997, 1998 and 1999) and were runners-up six times.