Waterford, Lake Geneva at home, Wilmot opens on road

Grant Tully ran all over the Elks Friday. Here, he finds himself all alone on a 60-yard score, but the play was negated due to holding. Tully finished with 156 yards, and he ran for more than 900 this season. (Mike Ramczyk/SLN)

By Mike Ramczyk

sports@southernlakesnewspapers.com

ELKHORN – The Burlington football team took care of business Friday night.

Their reward?

A rematch with Southern Lakes Conference rival Waterford, roughly one month after the Wolverines came into Don Dalton Stadium at Burlington High School and put a beating on the Demons, 31-14, behind punishing defense and dynamic, explosive offense.

On Friday night, Burlington, which looks like a completely different team than the one that faced Waterford back in September, cruised to its fourth consecutive victory, a 14-0 mud bath in Elkhorn that featured increasingly heavy rains, mild temperatures and old-fashioned smash-mouth football.

The Demons, who were attempting around 20-25 passes per game up until an Sept. 30 victory at Delavan-Darien, have been forced to morph into a run-first offense the past two weeks due to rainy conditions, and it has worked wonders.

Led by a big, athletic offensive line that simply enjoys getting after people, Burlington racked up 300 rushing yards Friday, led by Grant Tully’s 156 and Nick Klug’s 136. Junior Zach Anderson added 40 yards.

The game was won in the trenches, as the Demons enjoyed a consistent push to the second level on run plays. Tully found plenty of room up the middle and off tackle, while Klug provided a change of pace around the ends.

Defensive linemen Ben Golon, Brian Konz, Nathan Bousman and Josh Letkewicz helped hold Elkhorn to only 143 total yards, as the Elks mustered 69 rushing yards on 2.2 yards per carry. A few big pass plays resulted after Demon defenders slipped and fell down, but Elkhorn’s Dakota Biefeld was the team’s biggest threat, running for 44 yards and catching four short passes for 32 yards.

All it took was a 13-yard touchdown run from Klug in the first quarter and a 30-yard dash by Tully in the third quarter, a play in which he leaped over a pile of defenders before bolting to the left corner of the end zone, and Burlington finished the season strong at 6-3.

The offensive line of Konz, Dylan Peterson, Bousman, Taylon Hensley and Dylan Runkel, which has been the spark behind the recent emphasis on the run game, was stellar again Friday.

“I thought we played well today despite the scoreboard,” said Klug, who finished the season as the only player in the SLC with 1,000 yards passing and 500 rushing. “I’m very happy we won, but we just could not play our normal game due to weather.”

“The guys on the O-line are good. You can tell that many of them have put hours on top of hours of work in the offseason. They are physical kids that have a non-stop motor. They have really carried us these past couple games, because without them things could be different. They’re doing great things, and hopefully we can keep up the momentum.”

For Golon, who has helped the Demons allow 7, 6 and 0 points their last three games, Friday’s win was about mental preparation. The 6-foot-2, 240-pound senior has been the team’s run stopper up the middle this season.

“I felt the reason we dominated was because of the way that we focused during the bad weather,” Golon said. “We have been taught to keep our focus during these kind of situations that we can’t control like the rain. I thought we did a good job doing that. It’s a flat-out battle in the trenches, and I thought we did a good job doing that in tough conditions.”

Burlington outgained Elkhorn, 332-143, and the dominance showed as the Demons gained nearly seven yards per play and held the Elks to three yards.

Defensively, Nate Crayton tallied eight tackles, a quarterback sack and two tackles for loss. Julian Luciano and Letkewicz each added a sack.

Second season begins, Waterford rips Delavan

Late Friday night, the WIAA announced its football playoff regional groupings, and Saturday afternoon, Burlington, Waterford, Wilmot and Lake Geneva Badger found out their playoff fates.

In Division 1, No. 3 Lake Geneva Badger will host No. 6 Kenosha Bradford, a team that handed the Badgers their only loss on the final play of the second game of the season, 26-21.

No. 8 Wilmot, who overcame a two-game losing streak to qualify for the postseason last night behind an extraordinary performance from senior quarterback Robert Brent (339 all-purpose yards, 5 TD’s), gets a tough draw at No. 1 Monona Grove.

The winner of that game will play the winner of Friday’s contest between No. 5 Burlington and No. 4 Waterford at Waterford Union High School.

The 7-2 Wolverines did it all Friday night, racking up 215 rushing yards and 140 passing yards.

Tanner Keller saw his five-game streak of 150 rush yards or more come to an end, but he made up for it with touchdown catches out of the backfield of 46 and 32 yards in a 45-19 white-washing of Delavan-Darien.

Waterford’s offense has looked extremely dangerous during its six-game win streak, as a once run-heavy attack has added a lethal passing dimension behind quarterback Joe Schauer, who was 6-for-6 for 138 yards last night.

Waterford led, 45-6, at halftime behind two touchdown runs from Ben Michalowski, who looks fully healthy after an injury sidelined him earlier this season. Michalowski had 104 yards on 14 carries.

Dominic Miller and Tony Mastrocola added touchdowns.

Kicker Patrick Goldammer booted a field goal and finished the SLC season perfect, going 34-for-34 on extra points and 5-for-5 on field goals.

Playoff brackets breakdown

Lake Geneva endures an extremely difficult draw, with state powers Bradford, Racine Horlick, Muskego and Franklin all providing tough matchups.

But history is on the Badger’s side, as the team has found a way to advance to the Division 1 state semifinals each of the past two seasons.

A potential second-round showdown at Franklin will determine the team’s longevity this postseason.

Wilmot has enough talent to compete with Monona Grove and may have found something with Brent, last year’s SLC leading rusher, at quarterback. The senior is nearly full healthy after a bad injury, and he’s shown big-play passing ability.

Also, Zach Lamberson shows a refreshing new look under center. The Panthers capitalized on some trick plays Friday, and I expect head coach Keiya Square to try even more new looks Friday.

The game of the week will be Burlington and Waterford, as both teams are much different from their first meeting.

Michalowski is at full strength this time, and Tanner Keller is a full-blown star. Schauer continues to provide a serious threat in the pass game, so Burlington can’t load the box.

The Waterford defense will bring the hard hats like usual, as Adam Bakken-led teams will always play strong defense. Aaron Chapman had another two interceptions Friday night.

The Demons are much better than they were a month ago as well, as they’ve shown an ability to win games passing or running. The defense has improved in the trenches and has enough playmakers to contain Waterford’s run game, though it can’t be stopped.

An instant classic could be in store, and with such high stakes, the atmosphere promises electricity.

Check for my football playoff predictions in Thursday’s Burlington Standard Press and Friday’s Waterford Post, along with Friday’s Westosha Report.

WIAA FOOTBALL PLAYOFFS
Division 1
Regional pairings
Lake Geneva Badger, Muskego, Kenosha Bradford, Racine Horlick, Milwaukee Hamilton, Franklin, Janesville Craig, Oak Creek
Division 2
Germantown, Waukesha West, Wilmot, Burlington, Monona Grove, Oregon, Stoughton, Waterford
Friday’s Matchups
(6) Kenosha Bradford at (1) Lake Geneva Badger
(8) Wilmot at (1) Monona Grove
(5) Burlington at (4) Waterford

 

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