For the second week in a row, the Badger football team defeated a Southern Lakes Conference foe by a significant margin.
On Sept. 10, the Badgers traveled to Wilmot and defeated the Panthers 51-32.
At the start of the game, it did not seem like the final score would be a blowout as the two teams traded blows throughout the first quarter.
Wilmot scored just a minute and a half into the contest on an 11-yard rush by junior running back Anthony Hall for a quick 7-0 lead. Badger responded with a fast score of their own as senior quarterback Kegan Huber broke free for a 40-yard rushing score to tie the game 7-7 at 8:30.
Just 24 seconds later, Wilmot was back in the lead as junior quarterback Cooper Zimmerman hit Hall for a 69-yard passing score and a 14-7 lead.
Badger head coach Matt Hensler said that his veteran-heavy team has gotten quite good at pregame preparation, so the team felt they were ready for whatever Wilmot would throw at them after pouring over their plays from the previous games.
However, the Panthers started the game with a series of plays they had not used in any of their prior contests, which threw the Badgers for a loop early on.
“Wilmot came out with something 180 degrees different from what they had done in the first few games, so it took a while for our kids to adjust to that,” Hensler said. “It took a little while for us to get going defensively.”
After those two early scores, the Badger defense did stiffen up, allowing just six points from the midpoint of the first quarter until halfway through the fourth quarter.
Meanwhile, their offense came alive.
Senior running back Cole Berghorn scored on a 5-yard rush at 4:06 in the first, and an ensuing two-point conversion gave the Badgers a 15-14 lead that they would not relinquish.
Berghorn scored again early in the second quarter, busting free for an 80-yard score for a 22-14 advantage. Huber scored on a 29-yard rush a few minutes later, with anothe3r two-point conversion providing a 30-14 cushion for the Badgers.
Wilmot scored their only points in the dry spell with 1:38 remaining in the half, but Badger quickly go the lead back up to two scores on a 46-yard Berghorn rush with 38 seconds on the clock and a 37-20 score.
The only score in the third quarter came at 8:38, with Huber punching in a 9-yard rushing score for a 44-20 advantage.
For the second week in a row, both Huber and Berghorn scored three rushing touchdowns as the Badger triple-option offense is performing at its peak. While the pair of rushers deserve their share of the credit, the Badgers’ offensive linemen and tight ends have played an outsized role in their success this season.
While the Badgers have a collection of stellar individual athletes at each position on the line, it’s their teamwork together that makes everything work.
“It’s like different fingers on the same hand, and if we get everybody going in the right direction and everyone’s on the same page, that’s more important than anything,” Hensler said.
Badger scored one final touchdown early in the fourth quarter as senior running back Jacob Needle rushed for a 14-yard score to put Badger ahead 51-20.
Wilmot scored twice in the remainder of the contest, but the Panthers could not overcome the 31-point deficit.
Berghorn was Badger’s leading rusher, carrying the ball 17 times for 237 yards and three touchdowns. With 887 yards through the first four games, Berghorn ranks fourth in the state overall in rushing yards.
Huber rushed the ball well, with 109 yards and three touchdowns, but he also had a good day passing the ball despite Badger’s typically pass-averse scheme, going 6-for-8 for 90 yards.
Senior receiver Landon Boyd led the team with four catches and 77 yards.
Badger will be back in action on Sept. 17 with a home matchup against Elkhorn at 7 p.m.
The Bulldogs’ eight-man football team hit the road as well on Sept. 10, losing a tough matchup by a 62-6 score.