Upon further review: Badger earns another rematch
One rematch down, one to go.
The Lake Geneva Badger football team has lost just three times in its last 30 games dating back to 2015.
One of those losses came in Week 2 of the regular season this year, a 26-21 defeat when Kenosha Bradford scored a touchdown and extra point in the final minute.
The two teams met again Friday night in the first round of the WIAA Division 1 playoffs. Bradford scored 26 points again, and they again came through with some fourth-quarter scoring. But this time the Badgers had built a big enough cushion, scoring 42 points of their own, that it didn’t matter.
A faster start—something that plagued Badger during the first half of the season—was a big difference in a rematch where some of the numbers were very similar to the first meeting.
In Bradford’s regular-season win, it outgained Badger 383-344 in total yardage. On Friday, Bradford outgained Badger 423-378.
But Bradford averaged 7.4 yards per carry in its victory, and the Badger defense clamped down, holding it to 2.9 ypc in the rematch. And while the Badgers attempted just two more passes in the rematch (9), they hit on a couple touchdowns.
The bottom line is that Badger was good enough Friday to earn another rematch.
It was Franklin that kept the Badgers from advancing to Camp Randall a season ago, with the Sabers winning 35-14 in a state semifinal.
Badger trailed just 21-14 heading into the fourth quarter of that game.
One of the big challenges for the Badgers defense will be slowing down Franklin quarterback Max Alba. He threw for nearly 300 yards and four touchdowns in last year’s playoff meeting. Alba opened this year’s playoffs with 160 passing yards and two touchdowns, while also rushing for a touchdown in a 45-7 win over Janesville Craig on Friday night.
Many pundits have picked Franklin to return to the state title game, but don’t expect the Badgers to go into the second round scared. They’ve won eight straight games and are averaging 42 points per game during that stretch.
Oh, and if they can spring the road win, they won’t need to worry about that third rematch. Waukesha West, which knocked them out of the playoffs in a D1 state semi in 2015, is in Division 2.
TOUGH TASK FOR TURNER
I called Beloit Turner’s Division 4 bracket the “Group of Death” in this space last week, and it lived up to the billing.
The Trojans went 7-2 in the regular season and couldn’t even get a home game. Then they trailed 20-0 at Platteville on Friday night but stormed back to take the lead in the third quarter.
The Trojans had contributions from several players on offense, led by Emiliano Reyes who rushed for 127 yards and one touchdown and caught a 46-yard TD pass from Kenny Draeving that got Turner to within 48-42 with 2:54 left in the game.
Platteville found its footing and won 54-42.
Elsewhere in that bracket, all the home teams advanced, but top-seeded Lodi won by just seven points over eighth-seeded Mayville.
DIVISION 5 BRACKET BUSTERS
Upsets were hard to come by in the first round. In every division except for Division 5, there were a combined nine victories by No. 5 seeds and four by No. 6 seeds.
Division 5 is where the bracket-busters came alive. There, three No. 5s, two No. 6s and a No. 7 seed moved on.
In the pod opposite Clinton, top-seeded Cedar Grove-Belgium was the lone home team to survive, as No. 7 Laconia beat No. 2 Southern Door to earn a road trip to No. 6 Valders next week. Cedar Grove-Belgium will host fifth-seeded New Holstein.
Division 4 had perhaps the biggest near-miss, as eighth-seeded Peshtigo saw a potential game-winning field goal hit the upright and No. 1 Wrightstown held on for a 21-20 victory. Gale-Ettrick-Trempeleau, which came into its D4 bracket unbeaten but a No. 3 seed, did not survive, losing 29-17 to sixth-seeded Northwestern.