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September 14, 2012 | 09:14 PMDELAVAN - Every time the Badger football team scores, its cheerleaders do as many pushups as the team has points, just like the Wisconsin Badgers.
If the local boys keep up their torrid offensive pace, the girls' arms may fall off before the end of the season.
The freight train known as the Badger ground game bested itself again Friday night, piling up 516 rushing yards in a 44-0 punishment of host Delavan-Darien that was pretty much over early in the second quarter.
Badger improved to 3-1 overall and stayed atop the Southern Lakes standings at 3-0. Delavan dropped to 1-3 overall and 1-2 in the SLC.
The Badgers totaled 534 yards and held the Comets to a miniscule 63. Badger was so dominant out of the gate, it had 364 rushing yards and held a 37-0 lead at halftime. The Badgers followed up rushing totals of 416 and 418 the last two weeks with tonight's season high.
And to say the Badger offensive line is banged up is an understatement.
"Our starting five is out," Badger coach Matt Hensler said. "We lost another one tonight. We have a lot of two-way guys right now. I'm very proud of those guys. We've been talking about starting games, not feeling teams out and trying to attack. We're starting to do that a little bit. It's a great feeling when we're ready to go right from the start."
Badger had 11 different players carry the ball, and six had 39 yards or more. Quarterback Peter Krien led the way with 121 yards on a mere four carries.
Senior offensive lineman Carlos Garcia said it starts in the trenches.
"I'm pretty shocked that we had that many rushing yards," he said. "It all starts in the O-line, like coach says every day."
"We keep a low pad level and stay on our blocks," senior offensive lineman Cole Radtke added.
"When we have a guy go down, the other guys help out the new guy," senior lineman Michael Siciliano said. "When Logan (Tenney) went down tonight, Rob (Slagle) really helped me out by telling me where to go when I needed it."
Badger asserted its will offensively, and the defense held the Comets to one first down in the first half and only 29 yards.
Tom Ritzman gave Badger a 3-0 lead with a 22-yard field goal with 7:25 left in the first quarter. On Badger's next drive, Austin Borst scored on an 18-yard touchdown to make it 10-0 after one quarter.
By the second quarter, the rout was on. Robert Johnson ran over several Comet defenders for a 31-yard run late in the first quarter, which set up Andy Cychner's 16-yard touchdown scamper to make it 17-0 early in the second quarter.
After a Delavan punt, Krien got into the act in a big way. Starting from the Badger 20, he broke several tackles and busted down the sideline before cutting back and bowling over a couple more Comet defenders for a 70-yard run. Matt Reynolds then walked into the end zone untouched on a slick counter play to the left, which increased Badger's lead to 24-0 at the 9:54 mark in the second quarter.
Badger was able to clear the sideline, and backup quarterback Collin Broderick took over.
In his first major playing time of the season, Broderick hooked up with Slagle for an 18-yard touchdown pass and sneaked in a six-yard score just before the half.
Junior running back Andrew Allen, playing in his second straight game after missing time with a sprained ankle, added a 58-yard scoring run for good measure with 4:38 left in the third quarter.
Badger shined in all facets of the game. After averaging 13 penalties in its first three games, Badger reduced that number to eight Friday. Also, the defense was lights out, with interceptions from Ritzman, Jake Kozlowski and Reynolds. Badger limited the Comets to 46 rushing yards and quarterback Jesse Collins to 12 yards passing and only four completions in 18 attempts. Collins, a sophomore, averaged 164 yards passing per game before Friday.
"Playing hard is the biggest thing for us," Hensler said. "We played hard the whole game and didn't coast. We were blocking the right guys and getting on the right people. That's pretty critical."
Johnson finished with 97 yards on the ground. Broderick added 74. Allen finished with 63, and Reynolds tallied 53. For Hensler, it isn't about the stat sheet.
"Right now, I'm just happy we're playing hard, and I'm happy we're focused," he said.
Badger returns home next Friday against rival Wilmot.
"Wilmot is absolutely for real," Hensler said. "It's a great rivalry. It's typically been very good games between us and them, and it should be a blast. I've seen general improvement each week. I like that we're going in the right direction. We're picking up momentum, and we're doing things right. I certainly think our best games are ahead of us."
Chemistry at the line
They're friends off the field, and they put in extra time to improve their games.
The Badger offensive linemen meets every morning with coaches for special film sessions to see what they can do better. Hensler can't stress enough how important the line is in this run-first offense.
"There's no position that's more unforgiving and unceremonious than the offensive line," he said. "They create their own little niche. Their practices are not like everybody else. It's different what they go through. You go through something that difficult, and you're going to bond. We have three O-line coaches, Mike Lorenz, Mac McBride and Dave Davila, who sell that and preach that to them every day. It's not an accident that they come together and do a good job."
For the players, the chemistry is key.
"I think we work harder for longer on the line," Slagle said. "We don't stop blocking until the whistle blows."
Garcia added that the linemen always communicate and make sure each defensive lineman is accounted for.
And perhaps the most impressive thing is the line's depth. Siciliano saw his first real action of the season on the line at tackle tonight. With mainly backups, the Badgers have averaged 450 yards per game on the ground in the last three games.
"Siciliano stepped in tonight and played mostly the whole game at tackle and did a great job," Hensler said.
"We're really thin on the O-line right now, but we have great coaches that keep pushing us," senior Michael Habrel said.
Badger has made a habit of long runs this season. Along with Krien's 70-yarder and Allen's 58-yard touchdown Friday, Johnson broke a 31-yard scamper and both Ritzman and Broderick sprung for 25-yard runs.
"We don't stop," Slagle said. "If there's a pile, we try pushing it. Tonight, we'd have a play where a lineman would come down and knock off someone's guy to spring our running back."
"Backside blocking is very huge," Radtke said. "If you don't get that backside play, the defense will kill the play. It's one big team effort."
Garcia credited the receivers, running backs and the defense for their part in the victory. Whether with a funny joke or a helpful piece of advice, Garcia makes it a point to motivate his teammates.
"Carlos is the most verbal leader for us, and all of the seniors are leaders," Slagle said.
"I pump them up somehow by either yelling or saying something in Spanish or something like that," Garcia said as his fellow linemen broke out in laughter. "These guys have been throwing their bodies around like I have."
Check Wednesday's Regional News for more.
Other area football scores
Big Foot 42, Parkview 6
Senior running back Mason Dixon went off for an area season high of 222 yards with four touchdowns, and the visiting Chiefs rolled to their 39th straight Rock Valley Conference victory.
A 5-foot-10, 200-pound combination of power and speed, Dixon scored on touchdown runs of 85, 23, 20 and six yards. He only needed 15 carries for the game.
Big Foot was up 28-0 at the half, and Carter Hehr and Quin Dixon added scoring runs to finish off the Vikings in the third quarter.
The Chiefs held Parkview to 210 total yards.
Big Foot is now 4-0, and Parkview dropped to 3-1. It was Big Foot's fourth straight blowout victory.
Hehr was efficient in the passing game, completing seven of seven passes for 86 yards. Matt Ripkey caught five of those tosses for 69 yards.
Check Wednesday's Regional News for more.
Other area football scores
Rio 45, Williams Bay 0
Whitewater 21, Edgerton 17
East Troy 42, Jefferson 35
Burlington 35, Westosha Central 14
Wilmot 48, Union Grove 14
Waterford 20, Elkhorn 13
Burlington Catholic Central 40, Racine Lutheran 0