The Badger and Mukwonago offenses were mirror images Friday night, even to the point where both quarterbacks wore No. 11.
The two, option-heavy offenses put up nearly identical numbers, but the difference was ball security.
The Badgers gained 195 rushing yards and only 13 passing. Mukwonago gained 191 on the ground and added only 20 in the air.
The Badgers’ time of possession was just over 25 minutes while Mukwonago held on for just under 23.
And both of those No. 11 quarterbacks ran. A lot.
Badger’s quarterback Collin Broderick had 75 rushing yards and his counterpart on Mukwonago, Aaron Nixon, had 50.
When it came to turnovers, however, the Badgers had three and Mukwonago zero.
Despite a strong second half, Badger couldn’t recover from three first-half turnovers against Mukwonago’s stout defense and lost 9-7.
Coming into the game, the Indians were ranked third and the Badgers ninth in the coaches poll of Division 1 schools.
“This was a great test to see where we stand in the state,” Badger coach Matt Hensler told his team after the game.
All of Mukwonago’s points came off Badger turnovers.
Mukwonago recovered a dropped punt inside the Badger 20, which led to a 12-yard touchdown by Indian’s running back Alexander Straszewski with 1:47 left in the half.
Two plays later the Indians intercepted a pass from Broderick, who was under heavy pressure from standout linebacker Dominic Cizauskas, who committed to the University of Wisconsin back in June.
At 6 feet 2 inches and 240 lbs., Cizauskas was a disruptive force on the Indian’s defense. Especially on the interception. He broke through the line and got a hand on Broderick mid-throw. The interception set up a short field goal for Mukwonago kicker Zachary Timmers, who had just missed an extra point. The kick was good and brought the Indians up 9-0 at halftime.
Nine points were all Mukwonago needed.
The Badgers put together an impressive 17 play, 65-yard drive in the third quarter, powered by Broderick and work-horse fullback Andrew Allen, who finished the game with 82 yards total, averaging 5.5 per carry. Junior Tristan Steiner finished the drive with a five-yard touchdown run, but the Badgers were unable to sustain another scoring drive.
“We need to take care of the little things,” said Hensler. “That’s a big emphasis.”
Hensler made no excuses for his team’s sloppy ball handling, despite the slick conditions — the game was delayed an hour due to a passing electrical storm.
“We had some good drives in the first-half,” Hensler said. “We just couldn’t hold on to the ball and finish.”
The Badgers will take a 1-1 record into its Southern Lakes conference opener Friday. They will play defending conference champion Waterford Union High School at Badger. The game starts at 7 p.m.
Hensler, who played for Mukwonago under his father, state Hall of Fame coach Kieth Hensler, didn’t like losing to his former team.
“It felt awful,” Hensler said. “It felt terrible. Obviously I wish the 9 and 7 on the scoreboard would’ve gone the other way.”
When it comes to losses, though, Hensler wants his team to have a short memory.
“The season starts tomorrow,” he told his players.