By Bud Milroy

Sports correspondent

After a rough regular season, the Catholic Central football team was in an unfamiliar position last week when the WIAA Division 7 playoff bracket came out.

The Hilltoppers – who have made the trip to the WIAA state finals the past three years, producing two titles – were unseeded and being sent to No. 1 seed Randolph.

Given that task, Catholic Central made the trip and sent a message about the strength of CCHS football, trouncing the Rockets 45-12 Saturday in a Level One game at Randolph.

CCHS advances to Level Two, and will host Black Hawk Saturday at 2 p.m.

“All year, we’ve had to push our guys to be physical,” said CCHS coach Tom Aldrich. “This group has a tendency to be more of a finesse team, but we can and need to be physical.”

That challenge was answered early Saturday when the Hilltoppers stymied Randolph’s opening drive and took possession at their own 27-yard line. Carson Meinholz went 18 yards on his first-down carry, and Rayce Wadsworth then picked up another four yards.

On the next play, Meinholz flipped the ball out in the flat to Grant Alderman, and as the senior running back headed up the field, teammate T.J. Walkington delivered a crushing block that let Aldermen gain an additional 19 yards.

“I think T.J.’s block on our first possession really set the tone for our kids and planted the seed in (Randolph’s) heads that we were here to play,” Aldrich said.

A few plays later, Wadsworth banged his way through the middle of the field for a 23-yard touchdown and a 6-0 Hilltopper lead.

Catholic Central then stopped Randolph on downs on the next possession, and Wadsworth took the ball in from 59 yards out for another score. The extra point was wide again, but the Hilltoppers had a 12-0 lead with 2:50 still left in the first quarter.

On the first play of the second quarter and CCHS with the ball again, Meinholz hit Walkington in the flat and the senior went 38 yards for another touchdown and an 18-0 lead.

Walkington then continued his hard hitting, forcing a Randolph fumble that Scott Vrzan recovered at the Randolph 17-yard line. Six plays later, the Hilltoppers were in the end zone again, this time as Alderman scored the first of his three touchdowns. This time, Walkington hit the extra point and made the score 25-0.

The Hilltoppers would added another score before the halftime break, as Wadsworth hauled in a screen pass from Meinholz for his third touchdown.

For more on the Hilltoppers, see the print edition of the Burlington Standard Press. For updates on CCHS’s Saturday game against Black Hawk, please check the website Saturday evening.