Area football: A foreign experiencePEPIN -- Heading into Friday's South Lakeland conference clash with the Eagles, Plum City's kicking game was a question mark. Han Lee, playing in his first ever football game, made a strong statement in the game to put a lock on that position. He and the Blue Devils routed Pepin-Alma 45-8 in a steady rain to improve to 3-0 on the season.
By: Eric Lear, The Republican Eagle
PEPIN -- Heading into Friday's South Lakeland conference clash with the Eagles, Plum City's kicking game was a question mark.
Han Lee, playing in his first ever football game, made a strong statement in the game to put a lock on that position. He and the Blue Devils routed Pepin-Alma 45-8 in a steady rain to improve to 3-0 on the season.
Not bad for a greenhorn, Plum City coach Troy Ingli said.
"He had a heck of a time even getting his jersey on before the game. We had to help him," Ingli said, illustrating how new to the game Lee is.
Lee isn't just new to football -- he is new to America. The 5-foot-11 junior is a foreign-exchange student from South Korea.
"I am a soccer player in my country," Lee said. "I thought I would do soccer here, but our school doesn't have soccer."
Plum City went for a two-point conversion after the first two touchdowns in the first quarter -- both Chase Luebker touchdown runs -- and failed to convert both. After a failed extra point from Kris Krueger following an Alex Gilles 32-yard strike to Tyler Churchill in the third quarter, Ingli gave Lee a chance.
"Han has shown in practice that he is the cream of the crop," Ingli said.
Lee's kick flew through the uprights and disappeared into the trees beyond the goal post.
"I was very nervous before I kicked," Lee said with help from Churchill.
Lee nailed Plum City's next two extra points after Ryan Gillman scored on a 2-yard run and Lance Von Holtum caught a 49-yard pass from Gilles. Plum City led 39-0.
By that point Lee had quickly become a fan favorite. He sent a kickoff into the end zone for a touchback late in the game that brought a loud cheer from the Blue Devils' fans.
Lee's final point-after try was tipped and narrowly missed going in.
"I'm not good now," a humble Lee said. "I have to practice many times."
Lee's kicks could have made a big impact on the outcome had Plum City not changed its game plan at halftime.
The Blue Devils threw the ball just one time in the first half and had a 12-0 lead at the break, a deficit P-A coach Mike Olson said he felt confident his team could overcome.
"We just said we were going to come out (in the second half) and try to throw the ball a little bit and try to make some plays with our speed," Ingli said. "(In the first half) I probably over thought it a bit with the weather and stuff."
Churchill said Plum City drew up a new passing formation at halftime. It worked as the Blue Devils scored 20 points in the third quarter.
"I don't think any of us expected that and it showed," P-A cornerback Danny Kujak said.
Gilles threw for 175 yards and three second-half touchdowns. Churchill caught three passes for 59 yards and two touchdowns. Plum City then went back to its steady and balanced ground attack that tallied 287 yards on the day.
Pepin-Alma wasn't as effective. The Eagles struggled to move the chains and had just 98 yards of total offense -- most of which came on the final drive of the game.
Fifty-six of P-A's yards came through the air. Jacob Lerum completed seven passes for 56 yards and was picked off twice. Brody Olson caught two passes for 35 yards.
The Eagles' only score came on a Ryan Erickson 9-yard run. Lerum ran in the two-point conversion.
"Giving up those big plays in the second half killed us," Olson said.
The win was Plum City's 45th consecutive regular-season victory and will be one that Lee wont soon forget.
"If he can take that back with him when he gets back to Korea, that he was able to play football and do something to help our team, I think that's great," Ingli said.