Badger football coach enjoys added work
LAKE GENEVA Usually, finding out at about 9 p.m. on Friday that you’re due to work Saturday morning ruins a weekend.
For Lake Geneva Badger football coach Matt Hensler, that only made this weekend exponentially better.
After the third-seeded Badgers upended fourth-seeded and defending state champion Kenosha Bradford, 14-7, in a WIAA Division 1 quarterfinal slugfest at Badger on Friday, Hensler, his team and its fans gleefully celebrated a storybook run that’s not ending yet.
“It’s amazing that I’ve gotta work tomorrow,” Hensler said amidst Friday’s revelry.
Indeed it is.
Badger, with the second-smallest enrollment of all Division 1 participants, is now in uncharted waters with its first semifinal appearance in school history. The Badgers reached the Division 2 quarterfinals in 2009 but didn’t advance further.
“It’s pretty special,” said Badger senior quarterback Peter Krien, who rushed for 174 yards and two touchdowns on 27 carries Friday. “We’ve never done this before, and it’s a pretty incredible feeling.”
Added senior linebacker Jeremy Fischer, who came up with the game’s two biggest defensive plays: “It’s the best feeling in the world.”
The Badgers (9-2) will face the winner of today’s quarterfinal between top-seeded Sun Prairie and second-seeded Verona in a semifinal either next Friday or Saturday at a site to be determined.
Friday in Lake Geneva was a contest between two teams with similar grind-it-out option offenses. In fact, not one pass was completed in the game.
The defining drive—and one that’s probably now the signature drive in program history—started from the Badgers’ own 15-yard line with 1 minute 33 seconds left in the third quarter and the game tied 7-7.
Badger ran the ball 16 straight times, including a big 16-yard run by Matt Reynolds (nine carries, 64 yards) on third-and-1 from the Badger 45. On third-and-2 from the Bradford 11, Krien went off a big opening over the right side, ran through a defender at the 1 and stretched the ball across the goal line.
“We have a drill called ‘10-yard war,’” Krien said of the tough running. “We do it every Monday. We’ve gotta fight for those yards every single time. That really showed tonight.”
Thomas Ritzman’s extra point made it 14-7 and capped the 16-play, 85-yard drive that took 6:27 off the clock.
Bradford (7-4) drove to the Badger 40 on the ensuing drive, but Fischer stepped in the hole and dropped Red Devils’ quarterback Draven Lafayette for a one-yard loss on third-and-9. Bradford had to go on fourth down, and Fischer timed a blitz perfectly to disrupt the play and force Lafayette to throw into the ground in the flat. Badger got the ball back and never gave it up.
Bradford went up, 7-0, on Henry Cabrera’s four-yard run early in the second quarter, but Badger tied it on the next possession with Krien’s 46-yard burst up the middle.
Bradford was held to 52 total yards in the second half.
“To hold that team, with those kids up front and that caliber (of) talent, to hold those guys to seven points is, frankly, pretty awesome,” Hensler said.
BADGER 14, BRADFORD 7
Bradford 0 7 0 0—7
Badger 0 7 0 7—14
Scoring summary: KB—Henry Cabrera, 4 run (Eric Wittkowske kick). LGB—Peter Krien, 46 run (Tom Ritzman kick). LGB—Krien, 11 run (Ritzman kick).
Statistics: First downs—KB 9, LGB 16. Rushes—KB 38-174, LGB 60-333. Yards passing—KB 0, LGB 0. Passes—KB 0-8-1, LGB 0-2-0. Fumbles—KB 0-0, LGB 0-0. Penalties—KB 8-58, LGB 8-55.