LAKE GENEVA

You could say that Lake Geneva Badger senior Cole Berghorn had a breakout season in 2021, but that would be a massive understatement.

Still, there’s really no better way to describe the season Berghorn had as a running back this season: He had 220 carries for 2,178 yards and 27 TDs—an impressive average of 198 yards per contest.

All those numbers would be even higher had Berghorn not been injured early in the Badgers’ second-round WIAA Division 2 state playoff game against Wales Kettle Moraine on Oct. 29. Badger’s season ended with a 13-7 loss to the Lasers.

Berghorn’s gridiron exploits have earned him The Gazette’s Player of the Year award for 2021.

Badger head coach Matt Hensler said Berghorn has been one of those players who puts the team first and does whatever is asked of him.

“He’s been a three-year varsity kid,” Hensler said. “He started out as a linebacker and running back, and this year he really came into his own as a running back. He’s one of those kids who never takes a play off, in practice or in games.”

Coming into his senior campaign, Berghorn had amassed 438 yards on 72 carries with seven TDs over the previous two seasons, including the COVID-19-impacted campaign of 2020. The Badgers elected to play in the fall of 2020 and went 3-4, with three games cancelled.

“He really stepped up this season,” Hensler said. “He gained confidence over the past two years and we saw the result of that this season. He was more competitive, fast and physical.”

Berghorn is working to rehab the injury suffered in the Kettle Moraine game, with the goal of playing college football. He said the disappointment of watching his senior season end from the sideline took some time to wear off. Soon enough, though, he was back in the gym working on his future goals.

“I’d like to go (NCAA) Division I,” Berghorn said.

Hensler said he and his staff are doing everything in their power to help make that happen, including putting out feelers to schools.

Hensler said Berghorn is one of those players a coach hates to see graduate.

“But that’s how it works,” Hensler said. “He’s had a huge impact on our program. We’re going to miss him.”

Berghorn said a busy offseason led to his breakout year in 2021. “I hit the weight room pretty hard, and did some strength training,” Berghorn said earlier this week.

It also was decided at that time that Berghorn would focus primarily on offense in 2021.

Berghorn still saw some action on defense side of the football this season, making seven total tackles and a sack with one pass breakup.

Berghorn said he’s been hard at work over the past month working on rehabbing from his injury, and his focus now is squarely on getting an opportunity to play at the college level.

Berghorn added that his teammates deserve much of the credit for his huge season in 2021—especially the offensive line.

“Those guys were great at opening up holes for me to run through,” Berghorn said.

Berghorn plans to major in exercise science with an eye toward owning and operating a gymnasium one day.

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