Source: Lake Geneva Regional News

Ground game lifts Badgers to first win

by Mike Ramczyk

September 06, 2012

BURLINGTON — Oh, what a difference a week makes for the Badger football team.

After a season opener riddled with mistakes and first-game jitters, the local boys picked up the intensity in a rivalry game at Burlington Friday night.

Behind 398 yards rushing and a breakout performance from senior fullback Robert Johnson, the Badgers busted open a 7-6 halftime lead with 26 second-half points en route to a 33-12 drubbing of the host Demons.

Badger improved to 1-1 overall and 1-0 in the Southern Lakes Conference. Burlington dropped to 1-1 and 0-1.

From the opening drive, Johnson put on a show. The 6-foot-2, 210-pounder bowled over opposing players to the tune of 218 yards and two touchdowns.

“Johnson was awesome,” Badger coach Matt Hensler said. “We thought he would have a big day. He broke a lot of tackles. Our offensive line took Week 1 personal. They had a lot better pad level and stuck on blocks.”

Hensler was pleased with his team’s effort.

“We played hard from the start,” he said. “We played with emotion and passion. In the second half, we eliminated the silly mistakes. We were more confident and ready to go. There were no more ‘What if’s’. We worried about playing hard.”

Badger outscored the Demons, 26-6, in the second half, but the game was close for three quarters.

Burlington scored on a quick-strike, 79-yard touchdown pass with 1:21 left in the first half to cut Badger’s lead to 7-6. Then, in the third quarter, Johnson capped off a run-heavy drive with a six-yard touchdown at the 8:04 mark. However, less than a minute later, the Demons connected on a 70-yard touchdown pass, this time from Jay Essman to senior Ty Dennis, a Lyons resident, cutting the lead to 14-12.

It was all Badger after that. The local boys imposed their will on the Burlington defense, scoring 19 unanswered points in less than 15 minutes.

Austin Borst sprinted for a 35-yard score on the ground to make it 20-12. Then, Matt Reynolds punched it in from two yards out with 10 minutes remaining to give Badger a comfortable 27-12 lead. Quarterback Peter Krien, whose uncle is a Burlington assistant coach, found Rob Slagle for a 13-yard toss to finish the scoring late in the fourth.

Hensler said it was a personal game for Krien, who finished with 74 yards on the ground.

“It was probably Peter’s best game as a high school player,” Hensler said. “He made some tough reads and handled things as smoothly as he could.”

Defensively, Hensler said the Badgers were flying around the field.

“We were in our correct spots and made the right calls on the field,” he said. “We were on the same page. We were a lot more aggressive (than Week 1), and we ran to the ball much better.”

Borst finished with 43 yards rushing. Dennis led all receivers with two catches for 91 yards.

Badger returns home to face Westosha Central (1-1, 0-1) Friday.

“We have some momentum,” Hensler said. “We must concentrate on playing hard and worry about our effort.”