Sun Prairie drops Badger
HARTLAND With the second-smallest enrollment in the WIAA Division 1 football playoffs, Lake Geneva Badger coach Matt Hensler used every trick he could find to help his team fulfill its dream of a first-ever state championship appearance.
Unfortunately for Badger, it still wasn’t enough to knock off Sun Prairie High.
After falling for the Badgers’ tricks for more than a half, the Cardinals clawed back from a 13-7 deficit and pulled out a
21-13 victory in a semifinal playoff game here Friday evening.
Cardinal receiver Drew Mikalofsky caught a pair of second-half touchdown passes of 21 and 9 yards to help Sun Prairie punch its ticket to the state championship game.
The undefeated Cardinals (12-0) will face the Hudson/Hartland Arrowhead winner at 4 p.m. Friday at Camp Randall Stadium in Madison.
The Big Eight champ looks to add a second state championship to its trophy case, following its 1995 championship.
The Badgers, meanwhile, fell just short of reaching its first state title game.
“Our kids stepped up a made plays tonight, like they have all year,” Hensler said. “But Sun Prairie was just so big, physical, and fast and has no weaknesses. They are a complete football team.”
Despite being outmanned, the Badgers had the Cardinals flustered for almost three quarters. Lake Geneva Badger took advantage of three Sun Prairie penalties during a 92-yard scoring drive, capped by Robert Johnson’s 3-yard touchdown run late in the second quarter. That drew Lake Geneva even at 7-7.
With the game knotted at 7 in the second half, Hensler decided to go for broke. Facing a fourth-and-one at their own 29, Badger punter Peter Krien successfully ran a fake punt 2 yards to 31.
Then to add to the surprise of the Cardinals, Krien fired two passes to Anthony Ashley, including a 27-yard touchdown strike to put the Badgers up
13-7 late in the third. Lake Geneva, which didn’t compile a single passing yard last week, stunned the Cardinals with 53 passing yards in the drive.
But that was as much as the Badgers could sneak by the Cardinals. Ryan Curran responded to the trickery with two touchdown passes to Mikalofsky that pushed his team to a 21-13 lead late in the fourth.
“We were trying to control Sun Prairie receiver Michael Marchese on the opposite side of Mikalofsky,” Johnson said. “But beyond that I can’t say what happened.”
Johnson, however, had a much better grasp of the game plan on offense as a fullback, leading the feisty Badgers on one last charge down the field to the Sun Prairie 13.
Then following a timeout on third-and-five, Hensler called one last trick play, a Matt Reynolds halfback option pass, but it was intercepted by Jeremiah Bradley to help end the comeback quest.
“Our kids fought for everything tonight across the board,” Hensler said. “In a couple weeks, we’ll look back at this season and celebrate.”