DE PERE - The hair that has been growing on Tyler Pasterski's face since the spring has been an attention grabber with teammates and others at West De Pere.
Pasterski has vowed to not get rid of the beard until the Phantoms lose a football game.
The senior defensive end is good for another week after unbeaten West De Pere survived a close shave Friday. The Phantoms, who hadn't been challenged all season, hung on for a 12-7 win over Seymour in a showdown for first place in the Bay Conference.
"I don't have to shave it yet," a smiling Pasterski said.
West De Pere ran its winning streak since the start of the 2010 season to 35 games and clinched a share of its seventh straight Bay title.
The Phantoms (7-0 overall, 6-0 Bay), though, were pushed to the limit in what turned out to be a defensive tussle between the conference's top two scoring teams on a blustery night.
"They played good football tonight," West De Pere coach Bill Turnquist said of the Thunder. "Boy, they gave us everything we could handle and more."
Neither team scored for nearly the final three quarters, but the outcome wasn't solidified until the Phantoms came up with one more stop on defense.
Pasterski stuffed Seymour senior Bret Rottier for a 5-yard loss on a third-and-1 run play from the West De Pere 44-yard line.
Then, on fourth-and-6, Phantoms senior safety Kegan Wirtz broke up a pass from junior Dakota Oskey to Rottier over the middle.
"We knew we had to make plays," said Pasterski, who had a sack earlier in the fourth quarter. "They had some momentum stopping our offense. We needed somebody to step up, and we had a lot of players step up."
West De Pere ran out the final 2 minutes, 23 seconds, getting back-to-back runs from senior Zach Rothering for a first down, and the Phantoms took a collective sigh of relief.
They avoided their first loss in the regular season since Seymour won 27-20 in overtime in the teams' 2009 season opener.
Unlike its first six games this season and many of its outings the previous two years that ended with WIAA Division 3 state titles, West De Pere didn't win going away with an abundance of points.
The Phantoms came into Friday's game averaging 56.3 points per game and with a whopping average margin of victory of 49.7 points. The fewest points West De Pere scored came in a 43-7 rout of Luxemburg-Casco in Week 4.
For a change, the Phantoms offense didn't steal the limelight from their formidable defense.
"We've got a lot of talent on defense," Pasterski said. "The same thing on offense - we put points up on the board. Defense, we showed it tonight. Seymour is a great offense, and we stepped up tonight."
Seymour (6-1, 5-1) entered play averaging a robust 41.2 points per game, but the Thunder mustered only 119 total yards.
"Their defense is outstanding," Rottier said. "We've got to learn from it. They taught us a lot. It'll make us better, though."
Fueled in part by the assertive play of its defensive line of ends Pasterski and Brad Ambrosius and tackles Chris Smits and Semi Sago, West De Pere put the clamps on the Bay's top rushing duo.
Rottier and fellow senior Cody Plaster combined for 50 yards in 21 rushing attempts.
"I didn't expect us to score 40, but I thought we would have a little more success," Seymour coach Matt Molle said. "To their credit, they shut us down - big time."
The Thunder had only one possession get past the West De Pere 40, and that came after a blocked punt by junior Cody Keleske started Seymour at the Phantoms 35 late in the first quarter.
Seymour capitalized with a 25-yard scramble by Oskey on third-and-6 to the 6. Plaster promptly followed with a run into the end zone standing up to put the Thunder up 7-6.
West De Pere had used a big play on special teams to start the scoring in the game-opening series. Rothering (22 carries, 121 yards), positioned as the up back with the Phantoms in punt formation on fourth-and-2, took the direct snap and dashed 56 yards for a touchdown.
"I guess we were looking for a little lift," Turnquist said of the fake. "I was worried about their offense, to be honest with you. They're a good offense, and they generate (a lot of points). I just figured we would have to get more offense and get more points."
The game-winning points for the Phantoms came 62 seconds into the second quarter.
An interception by junior cornerback Chandler Diekvoss gave West De Pere an ideal starting point at the Seymour 33. A 15-yard, personal-foul penalty on a Phantoms run moved the ball to the 14, and they cashed in three plays later on a 10-yard pass from senior Matt DeBaker to open sophomore receiver Connor Konshak in the back of the end zone.
The game was a scoreless stalemate the rest of the way.
"Isn't it funny, you've got a couple teams that are scoring about 40 or 50 a game, and nobody can score," Molle said. "But, that's the way good football should be played. That's what happens."
- Todd McMahon is editor of The De Pere Journal.
Seymour7 0 0 0 - 7
West De Pere6 6 0 0 - 12
WDP - Zach Rothering 56 run (pass failed)
S - Cody Plaster 6 run (Cody Mauthe kick)
WDP - Connor Konshak 10 pass from Matt DeBaker (pass failed)
Rushing - Seymour, Cody Plaster 12-35. West De Pere, Zach Rothering 22-121.
Passing - Seymour, Dakota Oskey, 2-13-1-37. West De Pere, Matt DeBaker 7-15-1-81.
Receiving - Seymour, Casey Jefson 1-29. West De Pere, Connor Konshak 5-45.