McCormick enjoys view of Craig win
JANESVILLE Ben McCormick decided to coach Friday night’s game from the pressbox.
As unconventional as it may seem, the Janesville Craig coach thought it might offer up a different perspective.
Not only did it offer up a different perspective, but more important, a winning perspective.
Craig played its most complete game of the season in a 20-13 upset of defending Big Eight Conference co-champion Middleton at Monterey Stadium. The Cougars led 10-6 at halftime and dominated the second half in improving to 2-5 overall and in the conference.
McCormick said the decision to go upstairs to coach was done for the team’s sake.
“We thought it would make us a better football team because it allowed me to see some things I don’t normally on the field,” McCormick said. “And I’ve got coaches on the sideline that I trust to make good decisions and to keep things organized.
“But this win wasn’t about me or anything I did. It’s an emotional win for me because I’m so proud of our kids, especially the seniors. They’ve stuck together as a team through a lot of adversity and continued to work hard.”
Middleton (4-3, 4-3) took the lead early on a scoring drive that was set up by a fake punt that resulted in a ensuing drive. Cougar quarterback Tom Gabower, who was more than efficient running the offense all game, broke free on an option play and raced untouched for a 37-yard touchdown run. Moncia Speth’s extra-point kick gave the Cougars the lead for good at 7-6 with 3:31 left in the opening quarter.
Craig junior Sam Plutchak, who intercepted Luke Schafer in the end zone on Middleton’s final drive, kicked a 29-yard field on the last play of the first half to push the lead to 10-7.
“Getting points there at the end of the half was big,” McCormick said. “It’s nice to have two kickers who are dependable when we need them. Sam has a little stronger leg, while Monica is very accurate.”
As it turned out, Craig’s two field goals were the difference in the game.
Craig’s defense grounded the Cardinal offense the entire second half. Middleton ran only five offensive plays in the third quarter and finished with only 199 yards of total offense. Paul Foster and Drew Grassi led the charge up front, while the secondary of Plutchak, Wyatt Olson and London Beth made life miserable for Schafer. The Middleton quarterback was only 6-for-26 with two interceptions.
The Cougars put the game away in the fourth on Jared Krueger’s 48-yard TD scamper with 10:30 left to play in the game. Middleton got within seven on a late Schafer touchdown pass, but Plutchak ended any hopes of a Cardinal comeback with his interception off a tipped pass with less than two minutes remaining.
Craig hosts Janesville Parker next Friday and hopes to add a ninth game for the following week.
The question is will McCormick be back on the sideline or back in the pressbox?
“Haven’t even thought about,” McCormick said with a big smile. “I’m just so proud of our team right now. I want to enjoy this.”
CRAIG 20, MIDDLETON 13
Middleton 6 0 0 7—13
Janesville Craig 7 3 3 7—20
Scoring summary: M—Demond Hill, 16 pass from Luke Schafer (pass failed). C—Tom Gabower, 37, run (Monica Speth kick). C—Field goal, Dan Plutchak, 29. C—Field goal, Speth, 21. C—Jared Krueger, 48 run (Speth kick). M—Max Oelerich, 7 pass from Schafer (Derek Rongstad kick).
Statistics: First downs—M 11, C 11. Rushes—M 28-113, C 42-211. Yards passing—M 86, C 59. Passes—M 27-7-2, C 11-5-0. Fumbles—M 4-1, C 1-1. Penalties—M 5-40, C 8-58. 42-yard completion on fourth down.