Source: Lake Geneva Regional News

Friday's Badger-Waterford tilt for Southern Lakes title

by Mike Ramczyk

October 11, 2012

It was a happy homecoming for the Badger football team Friday night.

The local boys raced to a 49-0 halftime lead and were up 61-0 in an absolute decimation of winless Union Grove. The hapless Broncos fell to 0-7 this season.

Thanks to Waterford’s 45-22 victory over Delavan-Darien, Friday’s tilt between Badger (6-0 SLC) and the Wolverines (6-0) will be for all the marbles — the conference championship. Kickoff is set for 7 p.m. at Waterford High School.

The Badgers took care of business against the Broncos.

“We played hard from the beginning, which is huge for us,” Badger coach Matt Hensler said. “We wanted to play to our potential. I was proud of our effort and intensity. It’s always good to play lots of kids on homecoming. The boys were focused despite all of the homecoming distractions. It was an amazing week around here.”

The two-headed ground monster of seniors Robert Johnson (171 yards, two touchdowns) and Peter Krien (138, three scores) accounted for five of Badger’s seven first-half touchdowns. Johnson’s 76-yard scoring scamper 21 seconds into the game kicked the Badger offense into gear. Johnson and Krien each needed only 11 carries on the night.

Junior Matt Reynolds added two rushing touchdowns in the first 24 minutes.

Badger racked up 449 total yards and held the Broncos to 145. All but 30 (419) of Badger’s yards came on the ground.

“We had everybody back that we’re going to get back,” Hensler said about the team’s injury issues. “We are almost back to full strength. We have had six kids including three offensive linemen out for the season.”

Junior Andrew Allen added 91 yards on five carries and scored on touchdown runs of 40 and 29 yards in the second half.

Defensively, Trent Bobula paced Badger with seven tackles and an interception. Hensler was impressed by the defensive unit, which hasn’t allowed a point in the first half the last two weeks and is giving up a minuscule 8.4 points per game.

“Union Grove had negative yards at the half,” Hensler said. “The starting kids are doing well. Our guys maintained focus and executed.”

A big, physical team

Last season, the Badgers shared the SLC crown with Waterford. This year, Bobula, Reynolds and other players have said their goal is to win the SLC title outright.

But that isn’t going to be easy on the road at Waterford, a team that beat Badger at Badger last year and spoiled its chances for an outright SLC title. The Wolverines advanced to the Division 2 state championship, where they lost to Waunakee. They have won six straight games.

Hensler said his team, which has enjoyed six straight victories by 21 points or more after losing the season opener, is up for the challenge.

“Our guys know the importance of this game,” Hensler said. “They’re excited, and they’ll be jacked up. You hope you get a last game that matters. It’s all about stepping stones. I know we’re better than we were three weeks ago. But we’re not quite there yet. We could have one more big jump.”

Waterford has had its fair share of success this season, too. Under second-year head coach Adam Bakken, who was Big Foot’s defensive coordinator for its 2009 state title, the Wolverines have reeled off three straight blowout wins after tightly-contested victories over Wilmot (28-13), Burlington (21-13) and Elkhorn (20-13). Conversely, Badger enjoyed lopsided victories over those three opponents.

Waterford features a big offensive line and aggressive defense. Kody Azarian is the team’s leading rusher with 566 yards and seven touchdowns. Alex Thomaschek has 552 rushing yards and 10 scores. Also, quarterback Ryan Danbrea poses a threat, with 345 yards rushing.

Danbrea can throw as well, with 317 passing yards.

“They are monsters across the board,” Hensler said of Waterford. “They are very quick, aggressive, physical and they tackle well. They have three gifted kids in the backfield. And they throw enough to keep you honest. It will be a great challenge for us.”

For as well as Waterford runs, though, it’s Badger’s bread and butter. The local boys average 391 yards on the ground per game, led by Krien’s 938 yards and 10 touchdowns and Johnson’s 867 yards and eight touchdowns.

“We’re similar,” Hensler said. “We’re playing good defense, and we’re running the football. We’ve got a few weapons, too. We have nowhere near their size, and we’ll do what we do. We came up a bit short last year, and we will need to run things the right way to give us a chance. It will be a physical battle, and it will be an exciting game.”