Mike's BlogDude, whatever I want to talk about
September 14, 2012 | 05:20 PM
We are nearing the midway point of the high school football season, and it appears the Badger and Big Foot squads are firing on all cylinders while Williams Bay is still suffering through a tough schedule and learning a new system.
Tonight, all three teams hit the road in conference action. Badger and Big Foot will have to play well to avoid upsets, and the Bulldogs are still searching for their first win since 2007.
What do we know so far?
Badger's ground game is in full effect, and I don't know if anybody is going to stop this locomotive any time soon. The Lake Geneva boys have amassed 416 and 418 yards rushing in their last two games respectively after a tough opening loss to West Allis Hale. A talented offensive line is in sync, and defenses have a hard time following the ball with all of Badger run-game deception.
Also, the defense has shored up in the last two weeks, allowing an average of six points per game in two victories. In the last two games, Badger has featured a 200-yard rusher and ran for 400 yards overall. Peter Krien and Robert Johnson both have more than 300 yards rushing.
Over in Walworth, Big Foot is a very, very good football team. The Chiefs, much like Badger, destroyed Division 2 Westosha Central. But Central is nearly twice as big as Big Foot, and the Chiefs don't have much depth. Also, in Brodhead and Evansville, Big Foot blew out two storied programs with ease. Senior running back Mason Dixon leads Walworth County with 514 yards rushing and nine touchdowns in three games.
Take Highway 50 west about 10 minutes, and the Bay is young. The Bulldogs have lost three games by an average of more than 40 points, but they have increased their point totals each week.
The Bay hasn't won a game since 2007, and new coach Derek Diehl has implemented a new system and a new attitude in hopes of turning things around. But right now, the numbers are low (25 or so kids) and there are only seven seniors on the squad. The Bay's three opponents thus far have been senior-heavy, experienced clubs.
Will the Bay win this year? Maybe. The Bulldogs' best chance should be Sept. 28 at Oakfield (0-2).
Here's a look at tonight's matchups:
Badger (2-1, 2-0 SLC) at Delavan-Darien, (1-2, 1-1 SLC), 7 p.m.
This will be a classic contrast of styles. Badger features a triple-option, run-heavy steady downpour of offense that is not only hard to stop but also hard to see. With Krien's fake handoffs throwing off defenders and cameramen alike, a Badger running back could be 30 yards downfield before anybody knows where the ball is. Badger has averaged 34 points per game in the last two weeks with wins over Burlington (1-2) and Westosha Central (1-2).
After allowing almost 300 passing yards in a season-opening loss, the Badgers have clamped down to hold Burlington to 216 yards and Central to 37 last week.
However, the Comets may be the strongest passing team the Badgers have faced this season. Quarterback Jesse Collins is second in Walworth County with 493 passing yards, and receiver Stephen Rodriguez, a 5-foot-10 speedster, is his favorite target with 212 yards on 11 catches.
Delavan handled Union Grove last week, 27-12, behind 232 rushing yards, 110 of which came from Rodriguez.
Thanks to strong defensive performances the last two weeks, Badger is ready for the dangerous, fast Comets. But the Comets won't be able to handle the constant running barrage from the Badgers.
If Badger can cut down on penalties (they have averaged more than 12 a game), this could get ugly. Expect Badger to gain an early lead and force Delavan to pass, which could play into Badger's experienced secondary's hands.
Prediction: Badger 42, Delavan-Darien 21
Big Foot (3-0, 1-0 Rock Valley South) at Parkview (2-1, 1-0 RVC South), 7 p.m.
The Chiefs have trampled three opponents by 36, 35 and 38 points, culminating with a 38-0 blowout over Evansville last week.
Big Foot is dominant on both sides of the ball, and it is able to control the line of scrimmage. The Chiefs offer a variety of looks in a shotgun-spread offense, which allows dual-threat quarterback Carter Hehr room to run or throw. Dixon is the squad's catalyst. He is able to score from any point on the field, and he can either run by you or run you over.
The Chiefs have averaged just over 400 yards per game, including 320 on the ground. Defensively, they have only allowed 170 yards per game, as well as 2.1 yards per carry.
Parkview crushed Clinton in Week 2 before losing by seven points at McFarland last week. The Vikings feature a three-headed monster in the ground attack, with senior Elliott Olsen leading the way with 315 yards, Alan Beggs with 300 yards and Riley Pearson with 263 yards and six touchdowns.
Parkview ran for 321 yards last week against Parkview.
Big Foot is a different caliber of opponent. Will the Chiefs' stout run defense get tested tonight? Yes, but they will pass with flying colors. Gus Wedig, Garett Cary, Tim Long and Collin Frederick among others provide headaches for opposing offenses, and they will impose their physicality on the Vikings.
Big Foot coach Rodney Wedig, who has won 38 consecutive Rock Valley games, will figure out a way to stop Parkview's attack. Look for Dixon to have another big game, and watch for the passing connection of Hehr and Matt Ripkey, which has hooked up for nine catches, 195 yards and two touchdowns.
Prediction: Big Foot 45, Parkview 14
Williams Bay (0-3, 0-2 Trailways) at Rio (3-0, 2-0), 7 p.m.
Rio pounded Johnson Creek, 34-8, last week. The Bay fell to Johnson Creek, 46-0, in Week 2. At least on paper, this looks like a total mismatch.
But the Bulldogs have shown steady improvement offensively. Sophomore John Higgins, playing in his first game of the season last week, ran for 58 yards and caught a touchdown pass. According to coach Derek Diehl, Higgins is still not 100 percent recovered from a knee injury, but the Bay is a "different team" with Higgins on the field.
Bay quarterback Jake Sutter threw for a career-high 161 yards and two touchdowns last week. Also, Ryan Bonamarte, with a 76-yard touchdown catch last week and other long catches this year, has proven to be a dangerous receiver.
Freshman Jacob Clark, who Diehl has dubbed the "savior" of the program, has ran for a solid 186 yards and 5.2 yards per carry in three games.
However, Rio should cruise to a win. Senior running back Brennan Kearney (6-0, 195 pounds) has rushed for 375 yards this season, including 166 and three touchdowns in last week's win. The Vikings have blown out three opponents by 26 points per game.
Expect the Vikings to roll.
Prediction: Rio 48, Williams Bay 14