Rockets Football Handily Slides Past Brookfield East

Robert Barthell, Assistant Editor-in-Chief


The first round of the WIAA Division 1 Football playoffs kicked off on Friday, Oct. 21, in which Brookfield East lost 40-14 at one of the last football games in Rocket Stadium.  Marked by colder weather and a student section wearing Halloween costumes, this game further cemented a largely successful season for the Rockets and prolonged their efforts to a subsequent round.

From a score basis, the first half of the game was tougher for both teams, with the score reaching 14 points for the Rockets and 7 for the Spartans by halftime.  The players, however, assert things differently:

Player #63, junior Nate Cleveland, mentions, “First quarter we came out strong, absolutely mauled them.  We absolutely killed them, and we just kept going.  The second quarter, we came up a little slow, went 2-down first drives, but then we took back and took control.”

Player #71, senior Lawrence Riehl, reflects, “I felt like we came out in the first quarter super strong. We came off the ball hard both offense and D-Line, both just mauled all game.”

Both of Neenah’s first-half touchdowns were scored by Jase Jenkins.  Senior Cal Klesmit, coordinating the Neenah student section, admitted: “He’s been absolutely killing it; he’s playing his heart out.”

Nevertheless, morale remained on the Brookfield East side that they would ascend to victory.  Maddy McGath, a senior at Brookfield East, said, “In this game, the Spartans are the underdogs.  I think we’re putting up a great fight, and there’s a lot more time left for a comeback.”

Unfortunately for Brookfield East, the Neenah Rockets scored an additional 26 points during the second half, bringing Neenah’s students to their feet and ending any chance for the Spartans’ comeback.

After the game, player #2, senior Jase Jenkins, said, “Offensively we were moving the ball; we made a couple of mistakes, but we recovered.  Defense held them, and played a good game.”

The execution of which, however, could have improved.  “The performance of this team tonight was pretty dang good, but to be honest there were a lot of penalties and we definitely could do better next week,” noted senior Christian Kriegl, team manager.

Most importantly, this victory propelled the Rockets Football team to a Round 2 rematch with rival Kimberly, to which they owe their only loss of the 2022-’23 season.  Their next game will be in the same location, at the same time, on Friday, Oct. 28.

According to archived results on MaxPreps, the Rockets played against Kimberly in the second round of playoffs — and lost — in both the 2018 and 2019 seasons.  But this year, the Rockets are in a statistically stronger position, with their current 8-1 record surpassing their previous performances.

Neenah alumni and former football player Dayne Newman (class of 2022) believes in this year’s team because of efforts on both sides of the ball.

“I think the defense is really good.  The offense is finally clicking. We have a lot of young talent, and Evan [Paque] and Jase [Jenkins] are really running this offense really well.  It just really helps that we have a lot of depth this year; the last year we had a lot of guys going both ways.  Everyone was gassed,” Newman said.

It remains to be seen whether or not the Rockets can maintain this momentum and advance to round 3.