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BREAKING: Badger football reaches state semis for first time in school history

Badgers knock off defending champs, Big Foot rolls again

A mob of Badger players, students and fans rejoice in victory after the game. Joy Kowald.

Krien (click for larger version)
November 02, 2012 | 09:01 PM
Revenge is a dish best served cold.

The Badger football team is taking this saying to heart.

After defeating the team that ended its season in 2009, Franklin, last week, the local boys were back at it Friday night against a team that finished Badger's season in 2010, Kenosha Bradford.

In temperatures at Badger High School that dipped into the 20s, Badger's revenge on the defending state champs was extra cold.

Badger quarterback Peter Krien ran for 174 yards, including the game-winning touchdown, and the Badgers downed Bradford, 14-7, in a WIAA Division 1 Level 3 playoff game.

With the win, Badger improved to 9-2 and will advance to its first state semifinal game in school history next Friday or Saturday.

"I'm a mess right now," Badger coach Matt Hensler said after the game. "I'm so excited for the kids. Hopefully, I get to do this for a long, long time. These guys have one or two years left. I'm so happy they get to experience something like this. Every team in the state is going to say their team deserves it. I only coach one, and our kids deserve it."

"It's a pretty incredible feeling," Krien said. "We knew we could end up right where we are."

"I'm so excited," said junior Josh Doyle. "It's my first varsity season playing, and it's so amazing. I'm speechless. I love it."

When the clock hit zero, Badger players mobbed each other in celebration after the handshakes were out of the way. After a brief speech from Hensler, a strong wave of Badger students and fans rushed the field and joined the players, with everyone screaming and cheering in crazed pandemonium.

Media outlets bombarded Krien, Hensler and other Badgers. And why not? They were witnessing history.

But it's not over. Badger will face the winner of tomorrow's Sun Prairie-Verona contest. Sun Prairie ended Badger's season in 2011, so the revenge theme could continue next weekend.

But first thing's first. It's good to be a Badger right now.

"It's a great feeling," said senior fullback Robert Johnson. "We work hard, and we need to believe we are the best in the state."

"It's better this week," said junior Andrew Cychner. "I am looking forward to next week. We fixed up our defense, and it worked completely. We're going to get that championship. We have that tenacity and toughness."

Senior tight end Rob Slagle said the boys showed a lot of perseverance.

"They're all my best friends," he said of his teammates. "Me and Logan (Tenney, offensive lineman) screwed up a lot. But every time, we talked about it and tried to get the job done. We weren't arguing and getting on each other's cases."

On Friday, Badger and Bradford had to fight hard for each and every yard, with all 507 total yards (Badger 333, Bradford 174) coming on the ground.

After a 7-7 tie at halftime, the Badger defense clamped down. The local boys held the dangerous Bradford rush game to roughly 50 yards in the second half. Bradford opened the third quarter with the ball but was forced to punt. On the ensuing possession, Badger moved inside the Bradford 10-yard line thanks to a steady, methodical drive that featured powerful running from Johnson, Krien and Matt Reynolds. On third and goal at the Bradford 7, Krien's pass was batted down. On fourth down, Tom Ritzman's 24-yard field goal attempt had the distance but hit the left upright and was no good.

But no worries, the Badger defense was on fire. The local boys held Bradford to a three-and-out on its next possession, and Badger began what could go down in school history as "the drive," an epic 85-yard journey that took more than 20 plays and lasted nine minutes spanning two quarters.

Starting at their own 15-yard line with a couple minutes left in the third quarter, Badger meticulously moved its way down the field on the ground, with short gains left and right. On a third-and-1 from the Badger 45, Reynolds gained 16 yards on a pitch down the right sideline. After two more first downs, Badger faced a third-and-3 at the Bradford 11 with 6:06 to play. Krien kept it himself, cut back and lit up a Red Devil defender at the goal line before lunging into the end zone. The punishing run proved to be the game-winner.

"That was a statement drive," Hensler said. "I was so proud of our offensive line for getting off the ball. That was fun."

Bradford began the ensuing drive on its own 48. On a fourth-and-2 at the Badger 44, Henry Cabrera picked up the first down with a three-yard run. But on third-and-9 at the 40, Badger's Jeremy Fischer came up with a huge sack. On the next play, Bradford set up a screen to the left which looked promising. But the pass fell short, and it was a turnover on downs.

Badger could taste the finish line. Reynolds reeled off a 17-yard run, and Bradford committed a 15-yard face mask penalty after a Krien run. The senior quarterback took a knee with 27.8 seconds left, and victory was Badger's.

Krien scored Badger's first touchdown with 7:08 left in the second quarter. He ran left and broke through the defense untouched for a 46-yard sprint. Hensler was impressed by the senior, who made big plays all night.

"He's a competitor, he's a fighter and he's talented," Hensler said. "You get a kid that's that competitive and that willing, and he's an athlete on top of it."

The Badger defense completely shut down Bradford in the second half thanks to some key adjustments.

"Our defense buckled in," Hensler said. "Our linebackers started getting a little more comfortable with their speed. Our front seven played great in the second half."

"The defensive line stepped up," Doyle said. "We stayed really low and changed the way we were going at it. It definitely worked. We had to adjust, and once we adjusted, we started playing football."

Johnson added 75 yards on the ground, and Reynolds had 64.

"Tough yards, that's all it is," Johnson said. "Getting yards when there are no yards. That's all we needed."

"It was back and forth tonight," Slagle said. "But the fourth quarter was our quarter."

Cabrera, Bradford's leading rusher, was held to 69 yards.

Badger will find out its opponent tomorrow afternoon. Hensler is ready for another challenge.

"It's one game at a time," he said. "At this point, we're one of four teams left in the state. Whoever is left, let's go."

Make sure to like Regional News Sports Check on Facebook for a photo album from the game.

Big Foot 52, Lakeside Lutheran 17

In a WIAA Division 4 state quarterfinal in Walworth, Big Foot recovered after falling behind for the first time in the playoffs.

After trailing 10-6 in the first quarter, quarterback Carter Hehr's 95-yard kickoff return for a touchdown sparked the Chiefs.

Big Foot (11-0) broke things wide open with a 27-0 second quarter highlighted by three Hehr touchdown tosses, one each to Matt Ripkey, Gus Wedig and Mason Dixon.

For good measure, Dixon and Brandon Hausner added scoring runs in the third quarter.

Dixon finished with 201 yards rushing and three touchdowns. Hehr threw for 164 yards and ran for 100 more.

The Chiefs racked up 356 rushing yards but gave up 259 to Lakeside Lutheran, the top-ranked team in Division 4.

Big Foot now advances to the state semifinals for the fourth time in five years. The Chiefs will face Freedom, a No. 8 seed, either Friday or Saturday.

Check Wednesday's Regional News for a full story.


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