Aaron Winkel snares a pass to advanced the markers fro Kiel.
Aaron Winkel snares a pass to advanced the markers fro Kiel.

For the first time in school history, the Kiel Raiders have advanced to the WIAA state football playoff semifinal game. Seeded #1 in their bracket, the Raiders knocked off Berlin by a 21-14 margin at Fifrick Field Friday to move within one game of the state championship in Division 4. Kiel will face


Wrightstown in the semifinal matchup next Friday. Wrightstown defeated Freedom 20-19.

Kiel got a pair of scores from quarterback Mitch Mahler, both on keepers from a yard out. Alex Kleinhans chipped in the third Raider score on a 2-yard plunge off a direct snap.

The Raiders got on board on its second possession, after a beautiful punt by Nathan Goehring backed Berlin up on its one 1-yard line. The Raiders  marchd 52 yards with the offensive line opening up holes for Kleinhans, Mahler and Clayton Lepisto. The Kiel drive consumed seven minutes as the Raiders put their first points on the board with 54 seconds left in the quarter.

Kiel moved the ball on the ground again, only to lose it on a fumble deep in Berlin territory. Berlin got a great bounce on a punt after failing to convert a first down, and pinned the Raiders on their own 17 yard line.

From there, Kiel's offense took to the air, as Mahler connected on several key pass plays with Aaron Winkel and one big third down conversion to Slade Pennings. The Raiders capped the 83-yard drive with 3:29 left in the half, as Kleinhans powered home untouched from the two yard line. Connor Voelker's kick posted a 14-0 lead for Kiel.

Although the Raider defense had stymied Berlin for most of the first half, the Indians struck back swiftly. Berlin returned the ensuing kickoff to Kiel's 40, and then struck like lightning on the first play from scrimmage. Ryan Bartol found Aidan Schilling behind the Raider defense to close the gap to 14-7.

After a scoreless third quarter, Kiel pushed the lead to 14 points once again, as Mahler found the end zone for a second time. Kiel gained possession at midfield after a short punt, then took advantage of a heads up play from wide receiver Hunter Scharenbroch. Scharenbroch broke back on a ball that was underthrown to steal the reception from a Berlin defender, muscling his way to the 1-yard line. Mahler put the icing on the cake on the next play.

Leading 21-7, Kiel held Berlin on four downs taking over at the Indians 45 with 7:13 play.

Instead of punting to force Berlin's back to the wall, the Raiders mishandled the punt snap and yielded the ball on their own 39.

Berlin took advantage with backup quarterback Landen Sobieski eating up most of the yardage on a scramble. Sobieski rambled behind a wall of blockers to close the lead to 21-14.

Kiel still remained three minutes from a victory that had seemed secure only moments earlier.

The Raiders recoverd the ensuing onside kick, then got a key run from Mahler to set them up in victory formation with 50 seconds remaining. After a pair of kneel downs, they were celebrating a trip to the semifinals on Coach Mike Dressler's birthday.