October 01, 2013 | 03:10 PMLate in the fourth quarter, the Badger sideline erupted across the field. The players formed a mob and ran down the sideline. They whooped and hollered with their helmets raised in hand.
The Badgers were ahead by so much, even the most inexperienced players got a chance to take the field.
Senior Nee Dow Too entered the game with a little over five minutes remaining on a running clock – he's a team favorite, a member of the Badger staff explained in the press box. It's his first year playing football, and the first time he has played in a varsity game.
Too picked up 8-yards on a solid run during the Badger's last offensive drive.
Second and third string players were on the field, some for the first time ever. They showed how deep Badger's talent runs in a methodical, 62-13 route of the Delavan-Darien Comets.
An increase of Badger's offensive production combined with its consistent and aggressive defensive play has led to a string of blow-out victories against Southern Lakes Conference opponents.
With increasing severity.
Andrew Cychner exposed the Badgers' depth at running back – he ran for 109 yards on five carries and scored a touchdown. Cychner is the third Badger back to record a game with more than 100 rushing yards and a touchdown this season.
"[Cychner] is a fast kid, and he's strong," Badger coach Matt Hensler said. "And he's a good combination – in fact all our running backs are the same. Strong kids that can break arm tackles, and when they do get loose, they can scoot a little, and you know, all of them have been able to do that."
Running back Matt Reynolds had a combined 122 yards (36 rushing, 84 receiving).
Austin Borst, used primarily on short-yardage, scored two touchdowns and ran for 16 yards.
The Badgers gained a total of 559 offensive yards.
The Comets had 50.
But despite their weak statistical output, Delavan-Darien did put up a fight early on. After giving up a 42-yard touchdown run to Cychner with 10:26 left in the first quarter, the Comets marched down-field on an eight-play 60-yard drive for a touchdown.
"[The Comets] did a good job defensively right away," Hensler said. "Confusing us a little bit with their blitz schemes and some slanting. We were able to kind of take a seat on the bench and draw it up and the offensive line did a darn good job after that.
Once the offensive linemen were done being confused, Hensler said, they started playing aggressive football and generated some movement up front.
Friday night was Badger's finest offensive performance of the season – by 14 points and 74 yards.
"I'm very pleased with, basically, our effort," Hensler said. "I thought we played very hard from the beginning, and that's something we really try to concentrate on, is playing a full 48 minutes hard. I think they did that, and the [second and third string players] and a bunch of kids that don't normally get a ton of chances, when they came in, boy, I thought they played hard."
Senior Tom Ritzman and Sophomore Isaac Ziervogel played the second half while starter Collin Broderick rested. Ritzman scored two touchdowns and ran 32 yards on three attempts.
Ziervogel rushed for 52 yards and a touchdown on two attempts. This Badger team showcased talent and depth that few teams in the state boast. They have settled into a groove and are gaining momentum as the end of the conference season nears.
Last week, in a statistical analysis of the Southern Lakes Conference, Badger had the best point and yardage differentials by a significant margin.
This week, let's look at how Badger compares to the top teams in the state – past and present.
Stats of glory
The last three Division I state champions – Arrowhead (2012), Kenosha Bradford (2011), Waukesha West (2010) – have averaged, when statistically combined, 37.1 points and 355.4 yards per game, while allowing 12.4 points and 201.2 yards per game.
If those numbers are used as a bar to measure top-tier teams, this is how Badger compares through six games: 35.6 points and 395 yards per game, 11.3 points and 160 yards allowed per game.
Badger is well above the mark in three of four categories. The area where they fall below, points per game, is skewed by a powerful Arrowhead (2012) offense that averaged more than 44 points per contest last season.
Kenosha Bradford (2011) and Waukesha West (2010) averaged a little more than 33 points a game, a number that Badger exceeds.
When compared to this year's top-five Division I teams according to the week five WIAA coaches poll [see box] Badger ranks second in points per game, second in yards per game, second in points allowed per game and first in yards allowed per game.
But Badger is also first in another category – penalty yards.
On Friday night against the Comets, Badger was penalized eight times for 60 yards – their cleanest game since Aug. 30, when they were penalized three times for 28 yards against Mukwonago.
"[Penalties] have been addressed multiple times," Hensler said. "I think our kids did a really good job concentrating tonight. I thought we did a much better job with penalties and taking care of business."
In the past five games, Badger has averaged 74.8 penalty yards per game, well above the averages of the top-five 2013 teams. The next closest 2013 team analyzed was Bay Port, who is flagged for 57.5 yards a game.
Though there are other elements to consider, such as strength of opponents, statistically, Badger fits in well with Wisconsin's top Division I teams.
The Badgers have three conference games remaining this season, and each of them could determine this year's Southern Lakes Conference champion. On Friday they will travel to Wilmot (4-2, 3-1 SLC).
"We've got a huge match-up next week with Wilmot," Hensler said.
"Again, we're in a situation where we're playing for a chunk of the conference championship, so I think we won't lack for motivation."
Wilmot has allowed on average 106 passing yards and 117.7 rushing yards per game.
The game starts at 7 p.m.
"I'm happy where we're at and we have to continue to get better," Hensler said. "I think tonight was a big step