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Chiefs seeking second state title in four years



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Chandler Hehr (from left), Garrett Jeters and Gus Wedig can't contain their emotions after Friday's big win. John Halverson.

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Dixon
November 13, 2012 | 06:03 PM
WEST BEND — Big Foot's 45-22 win over fast-moving Freedom last Friday may have been good practice.

The Chiefs will face another speedy team in Somerset Thursday night in the WIAA Division 4 football championship game at Camp Randall Stadium in Madison.

The 12-0 Chiefs gave up 191 yards to Freedom's rocket-fast Nathan Peters Friday, including a 75-yard scamper early in the game.

Big Foot coach Rodney Wedig even utilized running back Mason Dixon on defense to match up against Freedom's quickness.

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"We just had to get used to their speed," he said. "It's one thing to see it on film and another to see it on the field."

Now the only thing standing between the Chiefs — who were state champs in 2009 and runners-up in 2008 — is 11-1 Somerset. The Spartans, who beat Black River Falls in their semifinal game, lost last year's championship game in double overtime.

The Spartans are fast. Even their linemen can move — one tackle is a hurdler, the other a sprinter.

But Somerset's real stud is its senior quarterback, Tyler Ledbeter, who leads the option offense.

Smart, a coach on the field, a great leader and skilled at running the option. That's what the Spartans coach Bruce Larson said about his star.

The Spartans one loss this year was against Durand, a team that put as many as 10 players on the line to stop the running game. But when Bloomer tried the same thing against Somerset in the playoffs, it wasn't enough.

Wedig said the Spartans use power and zone blocking and he hopes to combat their fast linemen with size.

"Defensively we need to play assignment football," he said. "We have to try and win first down and get them into second or third."

The Chiefs will have a challenge because they haven't run into many option teams.

Besides the speed factor, Wedig said the Freedom game was good for the Chiefs because they were challenged early.

For the second time in two weeks, the Chiefs were behind in the first quarter and the game was close enough that Dixon was still carrying the ball in the fourth quarter.

The Chief's scored their first touchdown when Collin Frederick scooped up a fumble and went 22 yards for his first career touchdown.

The early TD fired up the Chiefs, but the game wasn't over yet.

That's when Peters turned on the jets to score from 75 yards out. It was on a cutback, something he'd done numerous times this year.

All game Freedom used squib kicks to keep Carter Hehr contained. The strategy worked after the Peters score, when Big Foot's big men couldn't handle the kickoff and fumbled the ball over to Freedom.

Then Peters scored again.

After that, Dixon went to work, scoring from 29 and 11 yards.

Just as they had done the week before against Lakeside Lutheran, the Chief's raced for another score just before halftime, going into the locker room with a 31-16 lead.

Dixon scored two more times in the second half.

The Chiefs totaled 383 yards on the ground, 289 by Dixon. Hehr added 171 yards on 7-of-10 passing.

Despite another double-digit victory, Wedig knows the Chiefs will face a seasoned team in the championship game.

"They've been there." he said.

Just like the Chiefs, the Spartans are used to easy victories.

Larson downplayed his team's chances against the undefeated Chiefs during a interview with statewide media.

"If we keep it a close game into the fourth quarter, it could be interesting," he said.

But you could feel his competitiveness when it came to discussing last year's double-overtime loss.

"We were right there and just let it get away from us at the end," Larson said. "It'll drive anyone with a competitive bone in their body."

But Larson shouldn't sell Big Foot short when it comes to drive and competiveness.

Witness two scenes from the Freedom game:

First, Gus Wedig was helped off the field with what looked like a serious ankle injury. For a few minutes he laid wincing on a cart, which looked locker-room bound. A few minutes later, he was knocking heads again from his linebacker spot.

"Sure it hurts," Wedig said after the game, adding "but I'm not going to miss a Level 4 playoff game."

And after the game, Dixon was walking slowly down the steps toward the West Bend locker room. He had run 38 times as well as playing some defense. So while his body was a little achy, his competitive spirit was even more alive.

"I'm so happy to be going," Dixon said of the championship game.

No one is going to intimidate these Chiefs.

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