Tags: Feature Sports Story, Sports
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November 13, 2012 | 06:22 PMThe pedigree is there.
Eight years ago, Badger coach Matt Hensler's father, Keith, led the Mukwonago Indians to the Division 1 state football title using a well-oiled option running attack.
Keith passed the vaunted offense to his son, and Matt recently said in a Milwaukee Journal Sentinel article his dad is still the master, but Matt is following in his dad's footsteps quite nicely.
The Badgers racked up 323.8 rushing yards per game this season on their way to a 9-3 record and their most successful postseason run of all time.
On Friday, the local boys fell to Sun Prairie, 21-13, in a WIAA Division 1 state semifinal game. Badger deviated from the norm with a couple big pass plays to take a 13-7 lead, but the Cardinals were simply too big and strong up front. But with a little over three minutes remaining, Badger nearly drove 80 yards for the tying score. An interception with under a minute to go secured the victory for Sun Prairie.
Badger, much like Mukwonago, was one of the smallest schools in Division 1 and knocked off some giants. Badger escaped with a one-point victory over Muskego in the first postseason game this year. The Badgers then knocked off second-seeded Franklin and reigning state champion Kenosha Bradford by seven points each time. The Badgers were the second-smallest school in the bracket, and Bradford and Sun Prairie each boasted enrollments of over 2,000 kids.
And the Badgers saw plenty of adversity this season. They lost the first game of the season by one point before embarking on a six-game win streak thanks to ridiculously strong rushing performances and stellar defense. And they did it with a slew of injuries. Hensler said at least 15 starters missed games this season due to injuries. But when one big man went down, another stepped up, and this continued all season.
Then, there was the Waterford shocker. In a game to determine the Southern Lakes champion, Badger held a 3-0 lead until late in the fourth quarter. However, with only two minutes left, Waterford went 80 yards on two plays and stole the victory and the SLC title.
The shocked Badgers found out the next day they would have to play in the Division 1 playoffs, and they would be a small fish in a big pond.
But these boys are resilient, and they rely on their hard work and domination of the line of scrimmage. While past studs like Kyle Poplar, Trevor York, Tom Cychner and even Chris Walker were no longer around, this bunch was truly a well-rounded team with an undisputed leader, senior quarterback Peter Krien.
Krien was the star, with 1,463 rushing yards and 15 touchdowns. Krien's passing game also picked up in the playoffs. After tossing three touchdowns during the regular season, Krien eclipsed that mark in only four postseason games. He completed 8-for-18 tosses for 189 yards and four touchdowns with only two interceptions. Badger was able to lure opponents in with a potent running attack, and receivers were wide open come playoff time.
Another star emerged in fullback Robert Johnson, who ran for 1,245 yards and nine touchdowns, including a 122-yard performance in Badger's 28-21 win over Franklin.
Defensively, Badger totaled an astounding 19 interceptions, led by Trent Bobula's six. Also, Andrew Cychner and Matt Reynolds were hitting machines, with 180 and 171 tackles, respectively. The two juniors will undoubtedly wreak much more havoc next season.
Countless other players, like Josh Doyle, Jeremy Fischer, Andrew Allen, Mike Szeszol, Rob Slagle and Tony Ashley, stepped up with big plays in big moments. Doyle and Fischer caused nightmares for opposing quarterbacks, and Slagle and Ashley consistently came up with big blocks or catches.
While Krien may have been the superstar, a cast of hard-working Badgers consistently played to the whistle. Each individual did his job to contribute to the whole, and the result was the best season in Badger postseason history.
And the media and the Badger family was out in full effect during the epic run. Camera crews from Fox 6 and PrepsPlus along with various newspapers showed up at the last two playoff games. And the student section didn't disappoint. The crazed kids dressed up in U.S.A. and Christmas garb and made sure to rush the field after each big win. Over-the-top face paint and costumes, including Badger senior Liberty Wieseman dressed as the Statue of Liberty, provided memorable antics off the field while the football boys took care of business on the field.
For me, personally, it was also a wild ride. The Badgers truly persevered with injuries just about every week, and it was an honor to cover the journey. And the BadgerFam, a hashtag for the students on Twitter, took to social media to show their support. While walking into playoff games, I'd receive a "WhereisRamczyk?" tweet, and kids would maniacally scream my name when they saw me on the sidelines.
I enjoyed tweeting live updates of all the action, and the kids even created a fake Twitter account on my behalf named "YA BOY RAMCZYK." Crazy, right? It's pretty special to see a school and community unite and rally around its football team.
We took videos, pictures and wrote stories, capturing all of the big plays, successes and failures. And, even in defeat, players and coaches were cooperative and insightful with their comments.
Although they came up a game short, the Badgers can rest easy knowing they laid it all on the line every play this season. Despite injuries, the boys stepped up and had one of the best Sports seasons this area has ever seen. For that, they can be forever proud, and we are forever grateful. Thank you.