Parker falls in football playoffs
And when your program is built around a punishing ground attack, a four-touchdown deficit is a tall task to overcome.
But that’s exactly what transpired in Tuesday’s WIAA Division 1 playoff opener against Kenosha Bradford.
The Vikings played inspired ball the second half, but couldn’t overcome the slow start in losing 34-20.
Parker was the better team the last three quarters, but a 21-0 first-quarter deficit was not part of the pre-game preparations.
“I looked at my coaches early on and said it’s been a long time since we’ve been in this position,” Dye said. “At that point, I knew we were going to learn a lot about ourselves, and we did.
“I’m not happy about losing, and I’m not happy about the way we played early, but our effort tonight after we got down makes me happy to be the coach at Parker High School.”
The Red Devils (8-2) jumped on the Vikings (6-4) before the Parker student fan bus even got chance to unload. University of Wisconsin recruit Troy Williams took the first play from scrimmage 67 yards for a touchdown.
After Parker went three-and-out on its first possession, Bradford responded with an 82-yard drive that culminated with quarterback Pete Djuricovic’s 12-yard touchdown scamper. Charlie Davidson, who finished with 240 yards rushing, set up the score with a 62-yard burst up the middle on the previous play.
Williams then made it 21-0 with 4:32 to play in the first quarter as he hauled in a 15-yard pass from Djuricovic. At that point, Parker had no answer for Bradford’s speed on the artificial turf of Ameche Field.
“We got beat because we gave them some opportunities early,” Dye said. “High school football is a game of momentum, and we lost some confidence early on with the start we had. I thought we got back in the second half, but it was too late by then.
“And I don’t want to take anything away for Bradford, either. I thought on film that they were the best team we had seen all year. They have some special players, starting with Williams.”
The Red Devils increased the margin to 27-0 midway through the second quarter on Davidson’s 21-yard touchdown run.
Parker cut the lead to 20 by halftime on LaVell Hewlett’s 7-yard scoring run, and the momentum carried over into the second half. Junior Luke Helgerson plowed in from two yards out with 1:59 left in the third quarter to cut the lead to 27-14.
With Parker’s defense stiffening after allowing 240 yards on the ground in the first half, Dye turned to 240-pound senior D’Merius Holbrook to carry the load. Holbrook carried the ball four times for 16 yards and capped off Parker’s third scoring drive with a 1-yard burst up the middle to shave the Red Devils’ lead to 27-20 with 6:35 to play.
The Vikings’ defense again bottled up the Red Devils—forcing a punt with less than three minutes to play—but the offense couldn’t convert. Parker’s last gasp on fourth-and-five at its 49 resulted in an interception by Bradford’s Mike Ebener.
Bradford finished with a staggering 370 yards on the ground and more than 400 yards of total offense. Parker had an uncharacteristic 44 yards rushing and 124 yards through the air.
“There are no moral victories in playoff football,” Dye said. “We can be proud of our effort and proud of the way we battled back, but the bottom line is that we lost the football game because we gave them too many early opportunities.”
BRADFORD 34, PARKER 20
Janesville Parker 0 7 7 6—20
Kenosha Bradford 21 6 0 7—34
Scoring summary: KB—Troy Williams, 67 run (Kris Knutsen kick), KB—Pete Djuricovic, 12 run (Knutsen kick). KB—Williams, 15 pass from Djuricovic (Knutsen kick). KB—Charlie Davidson, 21 run (kick failed). JP—LaVell Hewlett, 7 run (Travis Wood kick). JP—Luke Helgerson, 2 run (Wood kick). JP—D’merius Holbrook, 1 run (kick failed). KB—Davidson, 36 run, (Knutsen kick).
Statistics: First downs—JP 12, KB 14. Rushing—JP 35-44, KB 41-370. Yards passing—JP 124, KB 35. Passes—JP 16-10-2, KB 8-3-0. Fumbles—JP 4-1, KB 4-2. Penalties—JP 2-10, KB 11-93.