Badger capitalizes off Burlington mistakes, stays perfect in SLC

Burlington’s Nick Webley (9) goes up for a catch against tight coverage Friday night, but he was ruled out of bounds. (Mike Ramczyk/SLN)


By Mike Ramczyk

LAKE GENEVA – The Lake Geneva Badger football team has gotten to a point where it takes a perfect game to beat them.

Head coach Matt Hensler’s veer offense, which predicates itself on misdirection, reads and dynamic backs, coupled with a pancake-blocking offensive line, has been an unstoppable force for nearly a decade now, and most teams struggle finding a way to stop it.

That’s why mistakes simply cannot happen against the Badgers.

The Burlington Demons learned this hard lesson first-hand Friday night in a Southern Lakes Conference showdown.

Despite taking a 14-o lead, Burlington committed three first-half turnovers for the second straight week, and Badger remarkably scored a whopping 21 points while only running four offensive plays and pulled away in the second half for a 50-28 victory.

Lake Geneva remains in first place in the SLC, improving to 3-1 overall and 2-o in the Southern Lakes Conference, while the Demons dropped to 2-2 and 1-1.

Westosha Central is tied atop the SLC with Badger at 2-0.

Badger benefitted from a pick-six of quarterback Nick Klug, who returned to play his first full game since Week 1, and an 84-yard kickoff return touchdown from William Keller.

By the second half, the Badgers’ dominant offensive line asserted its will and helped the squad build a 50-21 lead.

Badger players raise their arms in celebration as quarterback Colton Surges scores on a short rushing touchdown in the third quarter. (Mike Ramczyk/SLN)

“It feels pretty good,” said Badger quarterback Colton Surges, who threw two touchdowns and ran for 86 yards to lead the team. “Down 14-0, we were in a rough start. We felt confident, we’ve been in that spot before.”

For Keller, it’s about chemistry and a belief in each other that they can always recover from any situation.

“We’ve been playing together so long, and we are clicking,” he said. “We’re all pretty close, we all talk. We’re childhood friends.”

Klug was itching to get back on the field, as evidenced by his play early in the game. He connected with Joe Tully on a 59-yard touchdown to start the scoring, and Grant Tully, thrust back into a running back role with Zach Anderson going down with an injury Friday, reeled off a 35-yard score to give the Demons an early 14-0 lead.

But Surges answered with a touchdown run, and Klug’s pick-six to Mason Aufmuth tied the score at 14-14. However, Klug showed his leg, which kept him out of the past two games, is just fine, darting his way 38 yards for a touchdown to give Burlington a 21-14 lead early in the second quarter.


Badger fires off 36 unanswered points

That’s when Badger pushed the pedal all the way to the ground.

The ensuing kickoff, which the Demons strategically tried to keep out of Keller’s hands, backfired as the explosive running back grabbed the football and ran for a long kickoff return touchdown to tie it again.

Then, Surges showed off his arm, hitting Adam Gallagher for an 8-yard touchdown and Vance Dawson for 23 yards to make it 35-21 at halftime.

The second half saw Badger’s offensive line overpower the smaller Burlington defensive front on two straight possessions, and touchdown runs by Surges and Gallagher essentially put the game away at 50-21.

“We made some mistakes that cost us,” Tenhagen said. “We know what type of team Badger is, and you just can’t make those mistakes. We made two big mistakes in the kicking game. They went a stretch where they scored three touchdowns in three plays.”

Early in the fourth quarter, after a false start pushed back a fourth-and-goal opportunity at the Badger 1, Nick Klug fires a touchdown to Nick Webley for Burlington’s final score. (Mike Ramczyk/SLN)

“Our game plan was to keep Keller out of the open field. After two big returns, he pulled off a long run. Badger’s very talented on the line. Their line did a great job defensively.”

Mistakes cost the Demons, but the offense did its part.

Burlington racked up 440 yards, 245 through the air, and Badger was held to 319 yards.

Klug threw for 245 yards and two touchdowns, but was picked off twice, in his return to the lineup.

Tully, who showed quickness and power running between the tackles and an ability to make big plays catching the ball out of the flat, finished with 128 total yards, 88 on the ground on only nine carries.

Klug tallied 74 rushing yards.

Tenhagen said Tully had to move back to running back alongside Klug once Anderson went down with an injury. However, Tenhagen doesn’t expect Anderson to miss any time.

Tully, who totaled six touchdowns in last week’s win against Union Grove, was bottled up for the most part by an athletic Badger front seven.

“We moved the football and know we have an explosive team on the offensive side,” Tenhagen said. “We know we need the ball in our hands to make plays.”

“We have to rebound from this one. We have to make better decisions with the football. You can’t beat good football teams making mistakes.”

Joe Tully led Burlington with five catches for 114 yards.

For Badger, four players rushed for more than 40 yards, as counters, traps and quick dives kept the Demon defense off balance.

Surges led the way with 86 yards, while Keller added 61. Keller totaled 141 yards on kickoff returns, an average of 70 yards a return.

With a crucial road showdown at rival Wilmot upcoming as their only major test, the Badgers are in line to claim yet another Southern Lakes Conference championship and embark on potentially a third straight Level 4 playoff appearance.

What will it take to get there?

“We need to start games better, and if everyone is doing their job, and trusts each other, we will be alright,” Surges said. “Right now, the main focus is winning one game at a time.”


Waterford 24, Wilmot 13

What was supposed to be a battle of top teams was a one-sided affair for the host Wolverines Friday.

Behind the emergence of running back Tanner Keller, Waterford jumped out to a 17-0 lead and never looked back in a statement victory.

After rough losses to Franklin and Lake Geneva Badger, along with star running back Ben Michalowski going down with a hamstring injury, the just was out on Waterford’s SLC title hopes.

But Keller, who finished with 157 yards on 15 carries, showed the Wolverines are poised to contend thanks to three touchdown runs in the game’s first 26 minutes, including scores of 47 and 57 yards.

Head coach Adam Bakken reiterated his defensive genius, as Waterford bounced back from allowing 38 points to Badger by nabbing two interceptions and holding the Panthers in check.

Wilmot was without leading rusher Robert Brent, who was on crutches with a knee brace. According to sources, he possibly has an ACL tear.

Patrick Goldammer added a 23-yard field goal in the first half for Waterford.

It took Wilmot until seconds remaining in the third quarter to score, when AJ Frisby pounded it in from 2 yards out. He added a touchdown pass to Kevin Brenner in the fourth, but the game was decided.

Waterford is now 2-2 overall and 1-1 in the SLC, while Wilmot is 1-3 and 1-1.

Aaron Chapman and Will Ketterhagen each had an interception for Waterford.

Offensively, Alex Guardiola rushed for 56 yards. Quarterback Joe Schauer enjoyed a bounce-back game with 46 yards on 5-for-8 passing.

Chapman added 27 yards on four catches.

Wilmot’s Austin Norton led the team with 109 yards rushing on 16 carries.


Other area scores

Westosha Central 21, Union Grove 20 (check for the full story)

Delavan-Darien 38, Elkhorn 15

Whitefish Bay Dominican 27, Burlington Catholic Central 16

Clinton 53, East Troy 21

Edgerton 14, Whitewater 7

Franklin 49, Racine Case 3

Jefferson 45, Walworth Big Foot 22

Muskego 28, Catholic Memorial 6

Mukwonago 28, Oconomowoc 21