Monona Grove takes care of Milton
MONONA GROVE—Milton head coach Bill O’Leary used the word “confident” to describe his team’s mindset, despite the fact that the Red Hawks were up against top-seeded Monona Grove on the road.
Afterall, they had held the Silver Eagles, averaging 30 points per game during the regular season, to just two scores on the same field two weeks ago.
Unfortunately, that confidence took a major hit 13 seconds into Friday night’s game.
Junior Trey Powers returned the opening kickoff 85 yards for a touchdown and the Silver Eagles never relented on a windswept evening, ending Milton’s season with a 42-12 loss in a Division 3 Level 1 playoff game.
“That touchdown changed the whole concept of what we were trying to do,” O’Leary said. “We were trying to get ahead of them and make them throw the ball. That (touchdown) screwed the plan up altogether.”
In the 14-7 loss to Monona Grove—the outright Badger South champs—on Oct.11, Milton held the Silver Eagles to only 187 rushing yards and committed no turnovers in order to keep the game competitive.
In the rematch, Milton (3-7) gave up 203 rushing yards by halftime and was down 28-0 at the break after Monona Grove turned consecutive Milton fumbles into rushing touchdowns in the final 2:35 of the second quarter.
“We fumbled the ball way more than we should have,” O’Leary said. “The fumbles were so deflating because we were moving the ball and making positive yards. When you turn it over like that against a good team, it always comes back to get you.”
The Silver Eagles (10-0) chose to run more than their fair share behind senior left tackle Jaden Gault, a University of Wisconsin commit who was not 100 percent during the first meeting.
“We wanted to play physical, and I think we established that on offense,” said Gault, as Monona Grove ran the ball its first 14 plays. “Just coming out with a score right away sent a message. We were able to move the ball really well.”
After being limited to 74 yards in the first half, the Red Hawks got an 80-yard touchdown run on their first series of the second half from Zachary Hoard and moved the ball more efficiently, but never got closer than 22 points.
Still, O’Leary was steadfast complimenting a 21-member senior class who turned the program back into a playoff team after a two-year absence.
“When we first took over, we didn’t have a concept of how to play for 48 minutes,” he said. “I challenged them to do that, and I am extremely proud of them because they did that. We just didn’t score enough points against a really good team.”