Badger High offense dismantles Wilmot
WILMOT Lake Geneva Badger football coach Matt Hensler said his team was motivated to prove its status as a team to be reckoned with against highly regarded Wilmot on Friday.
If nobody was scared of the Badgers before, they ought to be now.
In an incredible display of offensive might, Badger High gashed Wilmot for 593 rushing yards en route to a watershed 55-27 win at Wilmot’s Frank Bucci Field.
The Badgers (5-1 overall, 4-0) took sole possession of first place in the Southern Lakes Conference and clinched a sixth straight postseason berth.
“It was big for us,” Hensler said. “It was a big win conference-wise, obviously. It’s a big win for us to qualify for the playoffs, six years in a row now. It’s a big deal to us.”
Wilmot and its vaunted passing attack entered Friday’s game unbeaten and ranked seventh in the latest WisSports.net Division 2 state poll. So it’s not like Badger steamrolled a patsy.
“I think, for our purposes, we wanted to come out here and just prove that we’re not a joke,” Hensler said. “We can play with those very good teams.
“For our kids, it was a lot about respect. The kids said it a lot this week, ‘Hey, we’re not a joke.’”
Wilmot (5-1, 3-1) certainly wasn’t laughing.
The Badgers spread the wealth with their triple-option offense, as Christopher Walker carried 10 times for 177 yards, Ed Ruzga gained 149 yards on eight attempts and Rory Klean ran for 95 yards on 16 carries before suffering a leg injury early in the second half.
Robert Johnson replaced Klean and ripped off eight second-half carries for 96 yards.
“Just the drive of the O-line, just staying on their blocks and hitting all their assignments,” Johnson shrugged nonchalantly when asked how he was able to seamlessly fill in for Klean in the second half.
Ruzga got Badger on the board quickly when he took a quick pitch around the right side and galloped 57 yards for a touchdown, and a two-point conversion gave the Badgers an 8-0 lead with 9 minutes 9 seconds left in the opening quarter.
Ruzga’s run was a signal of things to come, as Badger completely dominated the edges of the field on countless runs.
“The kids on the edge did such a great job blocking,” Hensler said.
Standout quarterback Chris Nelson tried to keep the Panthers in the game, throwing for 248 yards, including 13 passes for 164 yards and three touchdowns to Ryan Gartner.
But Wilmot never even overcame the early 8-0 deficit as Badger’s rushing attack was just too much.
Klean’s one-yard plunge gave the Badgers a 14-7 lead, and a 33-yard burst by Ruzga made it 20-13 after a Nelson-to-Gartner connection had gotten Wilmot within 14-13. Following that Ruzga score, the Panthers botched a kickoff, and Badger recovered at the Wilmot 10-yard line.
On the next play, Walker ran in for a 27-13 lead.
The lead was 27-20 at halftime, but the Badgers put it away in the second half with scoring runs of 19 and four yards from quarterback Peter Krien, two yards from Johnson and 27 more yards from Walker.
Badger hounded Nelson in the second half, holding him to 8-of-22 passing and intercepting him twice.
BADGER 55, WILMOT 27
Lake Geneva Badger 14 13 7 21—55
Wilmot 7 13 7 0—27
Scoring summary: LGB—Ed Ruzga , 57 run (Walker run). W—Ryan Gartner, 4 pass from Chris Nelson (kick good). LGB—Rory Klean, 1 run (kick blocked). W—Gartner, 17 pass from Nelson (kick failed). LGB—Ruzga, 33 run (kick failed). LGB—Chris Walker, 10 run (Karl kick). W—Chris Nelson, 1 run (kick good). LGB—Peter Krier, 19 run (Karl kick). W—Gartner, 24 pass from Nelson (kick good). LGB—Krier, 4 run (Karl kick). LGB—Robert Johnson, 2 run (Karl kick). Walker, 27 run (Karl kick).
Statistics: First downs—LGB 22, W 21. Rushing—LGB 64-587, W 22-63. Yards passing—LGB 16, W 245. Passes—LGB 4-3-0, W 36-20-2. Fumbles—LGB 4-1, W 2-1. Penalties—LGB 11-87, W 3-25.