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Big Foot opponent returns to title game

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KENNETH M. VELOSKEY
November 17, 2009

Kewaunee High School’s football team isn’t likely to buckle under the bright lights at Camp Randall Stadium.


In a battle of undefeated powers, Walworth Big Foot (13-0) will face Kewaunee (13-0) in the WIAA Division 4 state championship game at 7 p.m. Thursday in Madison. It will be the Indians’ third trip to the state finals in four years with an unbeaten record.


A savvy program, Kewaunee is 32-17 in the playoffs and making its 18th postseason appearance. The Indians were Division 4 state runners-up 4 in 2001, 2006 and 2007.


The Indians impress Big Foot coach Rodney Wedig, whose school is in the title game for the second straight year.


“Kewaunee is very balanced,” Wedig said. “They have athletes all over the place. It will be a challenge. I don’t know if we can match up in every spot.”


Kewaunee, located on the Lake Michigan shore just below famous Door County, opened this season’s playoffs by blasting Winneconne, 40-15. The Indians then defeated Manitowoc Roncalli, 42-6; Appleton Xavier, 25-14; and previously unbeaten Maple Northwestern, 35-20, to earn another trip to Camp Randall.


In the regular season, Kewaunee ripped through the traditionally strong Olympian-Packerland Conference. The Indians dominated the defensive stats, giving up just 1,157 total yards (584 rushing, 573 passing).


Kurt Flaten, who is in his 12th season as Kewaunee coach, said linebackers Tyler Wotachek, Matt Miller and Alex Schelis spearhead the Indians’ defense.


Kewaunee allowed only six touchdowns in the conference play, while notching three shutouts among its seven victories. The Indians’ closest victory was 21-20 over Oconto, while a 61-0 rout over Valders was their biggest win.


Overall, the Indians have lost one conference game in three years. Since 2002, Kewaunee has an 83-14 overall record, including playoffs.


“We’ve had a pretty good run here,” said Flaten.


The Indians went into the season looking to avenge several losses.


“A lot of motivation for this (season) came from last year,” Flaten said. “Last year, we lost a regular-season game for the first time in a couple of years.’’


Losing a regular-season game wasn’t the Indians’ only motivation. A quick out from the playoffs was the bigger disappointment.


“Wrightstown took it to us in the second round,” Flaten said. “That (loss) was a wake-up call.’’


Flaten said the returning players “worked for the tradition of Kewaunee.’’


“They have been pretty driven to succeed this year,” Flaten said. “They have really come together over the past three weeks.’’


Besides a tough defense, the Indians feature an effective passing game.


Junior quarterback Doug Delebreau (6-3, 173) has completed 101 of 180 passes for 2,158 yards through 13 games. Delebreau has thrown for 29 touchdowns, while tossing nine interceptions, and is the top quarterback in Division 4, according to Wisprep.com.


“Doug has a real nice arm,” Flaten said of Delebreau, whose brother, Alex, also was a Kewaunkee quarterback. “Doug is making good decisions this year.’’


Junior tight end Mike Lux (6-4, 210) is the Indians’ top receiver, with 39 catches for 977 yards and 16 touchdowns. He is the top receiver in Division 4, according to Wisprep.com.


“Mike is tremendous athlete,” Flaten said. “He has all the tools. If you could build a tight end from scratch, a pro-typical tight end, you’d end up with Mike Lux.


“He has the height and build. He has extremely good hands, and he has feet to move the ball, and he is heck of a blocker in our offense.’’


On the ground, the Indians rely on junior Craig Christman, along with seniors Schleis and Jerry Charles. The three have rushed for more than 2,400 yards this season.


“Jerry (Charles) is the bigger back (6-3, 180). He runs straight ahead, between the tackles,” Flaten said. “Christman (6-1, 191) is a slashing-type back and can take it outside. Once he gets into open space, he does a good job.


“Schleis (6-0, 213) has been on the varsity since he was a freshman,” Flaten added. “We started him at halfback and moved him to fullback his sophomore year.’’


But despite all their strengths, Flaten says the Indians are leery of Big Foot.


“Nothing bothers me about (Big Foot) other than they are a darn good team,” Flaten said. “They have a defensive line that is tremendous and aggressive.


“(Big Foot) is an impressive team on video tape,” Flaten added. “They have a lot of weapons.’’


But the Indians will rely on a winning tradition and state experience in their bid to stop the Chiefs.



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