Clinton's Krause carries the load
CLINTON--In the first half of the first game of the high school football season, Zach Krause turned to Tyler Halsted and said, “Let's get it, Ty.”
Clinton's football team was backed up to its own 1-yard line at Evansville/Albany in a battle of the 2016 co-Rock Valley Conference champions.
The two Cougars seniors—Krause at running back and Halsted at quarterback—were not simply interested in a 99-yard drive.
They wanted that drive to last one play.
“I'll never forget it, because 99 yards, you can't get bigger than that,” Krause said. “It was just a trap play. I still remember looking at film, and a coach from Evansville just (drops his head) on the sideline.”
Krause's 99-yard touchdown run set the stage for one of the top seasons in the state.
It gave Clinton a 13-8 lead in a game the Cougars eventually won 28-16.
They went undefeated in the regular season and ran their RVC winning streak to 17 games in winning a second straight conference title. Clinton advanced to the WIAA Division 5 state quarterfinals.
And Krause, stepping into a more featured role as a senior, put up a whopping 307 yards and two touchdowns on 23 carries. He went on to finish fourth in the state—regardless of division—with 2,386 rushing yards and scored 26 touchdowns.
He was named an all-state running back by the Wisconsin Football Coaches Association after earning all-region, all-conference, and conference offensive player of the year honors.
Krause impressed from start to finish this season, and he officially wraps up The Gazette's fall football season by being named area player of the year.
Krause knew he was in for a bigger role in 2017.
As a junior, he was one of many options, as 2017 graduates Peyton Pope and Jordan Jones piled up carries along with Halsted for a team that led the state in rushing. Krause did make the most of his 74 carries, though, running for 739 yards and nine touchdowns.
“He was just as good last year, it's just that they had to share carries because they were so talented,” Edgerton coach Mike Gregory said. “He's the real deal. You look at his size, and you're just amazed at how quick he is. He's as good a back as we've had in our conference—right up there with the best.”
Krause stands 6-foot-2 and weighs a little over 200 pounds, so he's big enough to break tackles and bowl through defenders. But he also possesses sprinter-type speed. He ran an 11.53-second 100-meter dash at track and field regionals last spring).
“He's one of those kids that only comes along once in a great while,” Brodhead/Juda coach Jim Matthys said. “He's obviously very talented, with power and speed. He came out and looked bigger and faster. He'll definitely go down as one of the best backs in the last 20 years in the Rock Valley, and maybe in the area.”
Still, not even Krause could have imagined the role (216 carries) and the senior season that he put together.
“I knew I was going to have a bigger role, but I didn't expect to have that many carries or that many yards,” he said. “It kind of came out of nowhere.
“Ever since the Evansville game, when I had more than 300 yards, I just thought of how good our team could be and how many yards we could get. That was a big momentum-booster, for sure.”
Krause rushed for at least 100 yards in every game but the Cougars' loss to Lake Country Lutheran in the state quarters. He injured his ankle in a second-round victory over Prairie du Chien and was still feeling some of the effects from that.
He had a season-high 399 yards—a school record, and accomplished on just 19 carries—and scored six touchdowns in a 63-20 victory over Edgerton. Krause also eclipsed 200 yards in wins over Big Foot (287 and 3 TDs), McFarland (258 and 4) and East Troy (232 and 2).
On the season, he averaged an even 11.0 yards per carry.
“This was a big season for all of us seniors,” Krause said. “A lot of memories made with those guys. I couldn't have done this without my teammates.
“The offensive line, I don't think they get enough credit. They're not the biggest guys, but they're strong and move laterally really well.”
Krause's incredible numbers as a senior somewhat overshadowed his ability on the defensive side of the ball.
As a lockdown cornerback, he almost always covered the opponents' top receiver and really stood out against Cedar Grove-Belgium's prolific attack in a 2016 state semifinal loss. This season, Krause made 25 tackles, including 20 solo, with one interception, one fumble recovery and one sack.
“He's just as good on the defensive side of the ball,” Gregory said. “He might be the best defensive back in the area, too. They play that in-your-face, man-to-man all game, and he just dares you to try and beat him.”
If big plays were happening on the football field, they were almost solely when Krause was on the offensive side of the football.
“Get the touchdown,” Krause said of his mentality when he knows he's getting the football.
From his 99-yard sprint in Evansville to his pair of scores in the state quarterfinal decided by a last-second field goal, Clinton opponents felt Krause's wrath.
THE GAZETTE'S ALL-AREA FOOTBALL PLAYERS OF THE YEAR
2017--Zach Krause, RB/LB, Clinton
2016--Jordan Jones, RB/WR/DB/KR/PR, Clinton
2015--DJ Vance, RB, Janesville Parker
2014--Avery Ousterhout, OL/DL, Milton