Keller, others run for nearly 300 yards

Wes Pittelkow (27) greets Aaron Chapman with a flying body bump after Chapman’s 65-yard touchdown catch Friday night. (Mike Ramczyk/SLN)


By Mike Ramczyk

BURLINGTON – Waterford head coach Adam Bakken wasn’t taking the Burlington offense lightly Friday night.

Not after the Demons put up 440 yards on Southern Lakes Conference powerhouse Lake Geneva Badger the week before.

In a crucial Southern Lakes Conference tilt between rivals halfway through the season at Don Dalton Stadium, Waterford held the explosive Demon offense in check and provided plenty of big plays of its own in a 31-14 victory.

One week after jumping out to a 24-0 lead against conference power Wilmot, the banged-up Wolverines, who had a few key players in street clothes, fired out to a 17-0 lead against Burlington.

Sophomore running back Tanner Keller continued his breakout season, reeling off touchdown runs of 36 and 39 yards and finishing with 176 yards on 21 carries.

Waterford had four touchdowns of more than 36 yards, including a 65-yard Aaron Chapman post down the middle of the field and a 53-yard Dominic Miller run. On several of the home run plays, the Waterford player wasn’t touched.

“Burlington moved the ball, but fortunately for us, they had some mistakes in key spots on the field,” Bakken said. “We’re playing so many young guys. We’re improving every week, and we’re still not healthy. It was really good to see. We’re explosive on offense. If we get a seam, we have three running backs between Dominic, Tanner and Alex that can take it to the house.”

Waterford improved to 3-2 on the season and 2-1 in the SLC thanks to its first road win.

Burlington dropped to 2-3 and 1-2.

The Wolverines racked up 287 rushing yards and 408 total. The defense held Burlington to 255 yards and only 60 on the ground.

Keller’s 39-yard touchdown run opened the scoring early in the first quarter, but neither team could get much going offensively.

The Demons switched things up, with starting quarterback Nick Klug moving to receiver and giving the occasional snap to Grant Tully, and it helped Burlington move the ball down the field early in the second quarter.

But the Demons couldn’t capitalize as Cora Anderson’s short field goal attempt was no good.

Joe Tully had 114 yards receiving for the Demons. (Mike Ramczyk/SLN)

After both teams went three-and-out, Waterford’s Patrick Goldammer kicked a 28-yard field goal late in the first half to give the Wolverines a 10-0 lead.

Klug connected on passes to Tully and Joe Tully, but Burlington’s drive stalled around the Waterford 25-yard line to end the half.

Waterford senior defensive lineman Jack Trautmann and senior linebacker Ben Michalowski, who only played defense but hasn’t yet returned to running back due to injury, attributed Bakken’s film study to the defensive success.

“Coach Bakken knows the play they’re going to run before they run it,” said Trautmann, who played nose guard and defensive end. “He knows the perfect play to call.”


Big pass sparks second half

Waterford didn’t take long to build a comfortable lead in the second half.

Normally a running team, Bakken drew up a rare pass, and junior quarterback Joe Schauer threw a perfect deep post to senior Aaron Chapman, who caught it in stride and dashed 65 yards to make it 17-0 with 11:05 left in the third quarter.

“At halftime, Bakken said to work the outside shoulder of the corner, plant and run a post, and it was wide open,” said Chapman, who caught four balls for 87 yards.

“And Joe threw a money ball,” Trautmann added.

Burlington punted on its ensuing possession after three plays, and Guardiola zipped up the middle and down the right sideline for a 50-yard return to put Waterford in business again.

Just when it seemed the Wolverines were going in for the dagger score deep in Burlington territory, the Demons came alive.

Junior cornerback Julian Luciano leaped to pick off a Schauer slant pass, and he took off 75 yards down to the Waterford 5.

The play ignited a dormant crowd, but a few plays later, after a penalty stalled the momentum, Klug fumbled and Waterford recovered.

Then Guardiola gave it right back to the Demons after a 10-yard run, and Burlington took over inside Waterford territory. On 4th-and-1, an illegal procedure pushed the Demons back, but then Klug hit Joe Tully, who led all receivers with seven catches for 114 yards, for a 20-yard gain. Two plays later, Klug rolled right and hit Grant Tully out of the backfield for a two-yard touchdown, cutting the lead to 17-7 late in the third quarter.

Waterford was able to run down the clock late in the fourth quarter. (Mike Ramczyk/SLN)

It only took 60 seconds for Waterford to erase Burlington’s momentum, as sophomore Dominic Miller took a sweep left and cut it up field 53 yards untouched to extend the lead to 24-7.

On the next drive, the Demons failed to convert a 4th-and-4 at their own 36 and were in deep trouble. But the defense stepped up and forced a turnover on downs, giving Burlington about 75 yards to work with at the 8:40 mark.

That’s when the explosive Burlington offense finally appeared, as Klug slung the ball down the field in less than a minute, culminating in a 30-yard back-shoulder dime to Joe Tully, who fell into the end zone to make it 24-14 with 8:05 on the clock.

An onside kick bounced directly to a Waterford player, setting up the Wolverines near midfield. Waterford then stuck with their bread and butter, running the ball slowly and methodically into Burlington territory, as Schauer used every second of the play clock.

Waterford’s complacency at the line led to several penalties, and a first-and-35 seemed to give Burlington hope.

But the Wolverines had one more big play left, as Keller slammed the door on any comeback with a 30-yard touchdown run, putting the game away officially at 31-14 with 3:39 left.

“We definitely can’t get complacent,” Trautman said. “I know that happens with some teams, but us as leaders, we don’t want that to happen. We want to keep climbing and keep everybody up. We have to keep reminding everyone that anyone can beat us.”

Michalowski said he expects to return as a running back next week.

“After two strong wins, we feel we can create wins the rest of the season and get a really good streak going into the playoffs,” he said.

Grant Tully finished with 65 yards on 14 carries. He completed 2-of-3 passes for 19 yards.

Schauer went 7-for-11 for 121 yards and the interception.

Klug was 12-for-28 for 176 yards.

“I thought we made some mental mistakes with penalties, bad snaps, dropped passes, fumbles and that’s on everyone,” Klug said. “Our offense just started working later. It wasn’t working in the first half, and that’s going to be our goal to start better and be more efficient to start the game. It’s hard to come from behind, especially against a great team like that.”

“You can tell they put in lots of work on our offense, every nook and cranny of what we do. Obviously, we’re down now, but we know we must come back tomorrow for film and get back to work.”

Waterford travels to Elkhorn (1-4, 0-3 SLC) on Friday. Burlington hosts Westosha Central (4-1, 2-1).

“I’m very proud of our kids, they are growing up so quickly,” Bakken said. “We have a fabulous mix of seniors, juniors and sophomores. If we continue to improve, I think we’ve got the potential to be a pretty good team by the end of the year.”