December 28, 2011 | 07:37 AMGymnasts just miss
The Burlington/Badger/Wilmot gymnastics squad was set to rewrite the history books March 5 at the Division 1 state gymnastics team meet.
Leading Franklin by 1.4 points heading into the final event, the balance beam, the Demons were on the brink of winning their first state title. But after Franklin had its first four girls score a 9 or better on the beam, BBW needed around a 35.45 on the beam to win state.
However, with the state title on the line, BBW posted a beam score of 35.017, and the squad simply couldn't catch up to the Sabers.
The local gymnasts finished with a 143.817, good for second in the state and their best team finish since taking second in 2007. Franklin edged BBW with a winning score of 144.201.
Burlington improved one spot from last year's third-place finish and beat out third-place Arrowhead (143.215), the two-time defending state champion.
Badger students Krystal Cooke and Kerry Leonard were key members on the team.
Bay football plays
closest game in four years
Bulldog senior running back Josh Hills collapsed on the field Sept. 16 when the clock hit zeroes, overcome by the devastating agony of defeat.
Oh, what could have been.
In a matter of 15 minutes, roars from the Bay crowd turned into silence as Maranatha Baptist's winning touchdown with 22.4 seconds remaining handed the Bay a 12-7 loss. Its closest game in recent years was a 14-point loss Oct. 18, 2007.
Ironically, that game started the Bay's current 32-game losing streak.
The Bulldogs dropped to 0-5 overall with the nonconference loss.
However, it was unquestionably the team's best effort in front of its home fans in the new football field's three-year existence.
Thanks to a 15-yard touchdown run by Hills late in the second quarter, the Bay took a 7-6 lead into halftime. They would hold onto the slim advantage until late in the fourth quarter, when the Crusaders put together an 86-yard scoring drive in a mere 2:28.
After Baptist scored with 22.4 seconds, Bay quarterback Jake Sutter misfired on three passes from around midfield before throwing an interception on the game's final play.
"The whole team broke down after the game," Hills said. "We played well and we just let this one slip away and I couldn't believe it."
Coach Buddy Breen said it was a tough one for his players.
"This was the first time in a long time we have legitimately been in a game,"Breen said. "It finally sunk in for the guys that, 'Hey, you can do it.' We have never had that kind of emotion after a game. I love the heart they showed. We saw the passion that's been missing."
Sun Prairie stuns Badgers
in football playoffs
The Badger football team had an excellent season.
They finished the regular season 7-2 and shared the Southern Lakes title with a 6-1 record.
But on Oct. 22 in a Division 1 playoff home opener, the Badgers couldn't have seen this coming.
There was absolute astonishment after the Badger football team's stunning 22-21 loss to visiting Sun Prairie.
With Badger trailing 22-21 with 9.7 seconds left, the local boys lined up for a game-winning 20-yard field goal.
However, Sun Prairie's Dane Lindholm darted around the line from the right end, dove and stuffed Peter Karr's attempt, essentially ending the game and Badger's season.
Badger finished the season 7-3.
"Too many mistakes," coach Matt Hensler said. "Too many mental errors, too many mistakes. Obviously, we're very proud of the kids. They did a tremendous amount of great things. They did a great job."
After exhausting his final timeout to set up the kick, Hensler weighed his options.
"The debate was if there was enough time to throw a fade or slant," he said. "Our kid is kicking 40, 45-yarders in pre-game, so why even chance it?"
All was not lost with the crushing defeat.
Hensler said it was a banner season, and he attributed a lot of it to his strong core of veteran leaders.
"This senior class was 1-6 as freshmen, and our junior class was 1-5-1," he said.
"Coming back like that and winning the conference championship is a pretty big deal. They made up a lot of ground. I'm very proud guys stuck with it."
Golfers win sectionals, eighth at state
For the fourth straight year, the Badgers won their sectional May 31 at Hawk's View.
The boys shot a team total of 321, led by Henry's 74.
He finished fourth overall. Garske fired a 75, good enough for fifth overall. Gruenwald-Schmitz added an 83, and Georgalas shot an 89.
This led to a strong showing June 7 at the state tournament in Madison.
After a sub-par first day of action June 6, the boys bounced back with a team total of 323 June 7 to take eighth overall as a team.
The Badgers relied on seniors Ryan Garske and Chad Henry, who each fired 77s on the final day of the state meet.
Coach Dave DeShambo said it will be tough to replace Garske, Henry, Brendan Gruenwald-Schmitz and Chris Georgalas, all four-year golfers.
Badger won its fourth straight SLC title.
Chiefs earn first
Division 3 playoff victory
In 2011, the Big Foot football team sure proved it can run with the big dogs.
Senior running back Kenny Walker scored four total touchdowns, including a 54-yard touchdown catch, and the Chiefs rolled the Tigers (5-5), 61-6, in a Division 3 playoff opener that was never close.
It was Big Foot's first-ever Division 3 playoff victory.
However, the next week visiting Madison Edgewood came into Walworth and shocked the Chiefs with a last-second field goal to steal a 23-20 victory.
It was the first time since 2007 the Chiefs didn't advance to the state semifinals.
However, it was another great season, as Big Foot won its fifth straight Rock Valley South title.
Generals first semi-pro team, win first game
It was pandemonium July 9 at Williams Bay High School.
So much so that after the Lake Geneva Generals' season-opening 45-0 rout of the visiting Joliet, Ill., Buccaneers, the Generals doused coach Derek Diehl with a Gatorade bucket bath. According to Diehl, it even wrecked his cell phone.
But it was simply good fun all in the name of victory.
Diehl, the first-year head man of the area's first AAA semi-pro football team, was proud of his team's effort in its first game.
In an interesting spectacle, which included a parachute fly-by that brought the game ball, Williams Bay Village President John Marra on the coin toss and a bouncy house for kids, the Generals gave the crowd of around 400 people, which Diehl said was a good size, something to cheer about.
The Generals are the area's first semi-pro football team. They went 7-2 and won their division in 2011.
Proven winner Lottig takes over Badger basketball
The past two seasons, the Badger boys basketball team has finished near the bottom of the SLC after reaching the WIAA state tournament in 2008.
But a change at the top shook things up, and the program appears headed in the right direction.
Darin Lottig, a gym teacher at Lake Geneva Middle School for the last 17 years, took over the Badger boys varsity basketball team after coaching the East Troy boys varsity squad the last eight years.
He replaced Tom Dummer, who was the head coach the last two seasons.
A 1989 Big Foot graduate who now resides in Geneva Township, Lottig has spent his whole life in the area.
In the last five years, Lottig compiled a 99-18 overall record at East Troy including 69-3 in conference. In 2008, the Trojans were within one point of the state tournament, falling to Monroe in the sectional final.
Lottig was hired in May, and it didn't take long for him to work with incoming high school players and even youth players all summer long.
After all, a new program takes months and months before it can run smoothly.
So far, the early returns have been nothing but positive. Despite a 2-6 overall mark, the Badgers are 2-3 in the SLC and have been competitive in each SLC game. The highlight of the young season was an upset victory over defending SLC champ Burlington Dec. 22.