Badger football stops Parker
Behind a strong first-half rushing attack and a defense that repeatedly held firm in the second half, Badger ran its winning streak to six games with a 16-14 win over Janesville Parker in a blustery first-round game here Tuesday night.
"Obviously, Parker is a very good team, and they're very rich in history," said Badger coach Matt Hensler, whose team reached the third round of the Division 2 playoffs last season. "(Parker coach) Joe (Dye) obviously knows what he's doing.
"For us to play with those guys the first time (in a Division 1 playoff game) is a big deal for us."
Third-seeded Badger (6-4) is rewarded with a second-round game against second-seeded Kenosha Bradford
(9-1) on Saturday. Regarded by many as the state's most talented team, Bradford walloped Milwaukee Bay View, 70-8, on Tuesday.
"They're the best team in the state of Wisconsin, according to a lot of people, so we're going to watch film. We're going to try our hardest," Hensler said. "What else can you do?"
Parker, meanwhile, can only lament its various missed chances on Tuesday as the Vikings finished their season at 6-4.
After trailing 16-7 at halftime, Parker started a drive or drove the ball into Badger territory on all five of its second-half possessions but came away with only one score when Decker Thompson hit Aaron Ackerman from nine yards out with 58 seconds left to make it 16-14.
But the ensuing onside kick went out of bounds, and the Badgers ran out the clock.
"This one's a hard one for our kids to swallow, and it's hard because our seniors are character kids," Dye said. "It's easy to come to coach when you coach the kinds of kids that we do."
Parker stopped Badger inches short of the first down on a fake-punt attempt in the third quarter and blocked a punt in the fourth, but the Badgers' defense kept rising to the occasion.
Adam Vesterfelt, Parker's star junior running back, churned out 148 yards, but it took him 40 carries to get there.
Badger's defensive line was stout, and senior linebacker Branden Allen put on a clinic. He had two tackles-for-loss to thwart one Parker fourth-quarter drive and was in on a stop of Vesterfelt on fourth-and-goal from the Badger 1-yard line with 3:39 left in the game.
"Our linebackers, all of them, did a good job reading," Hensler said. "Branden Allen flew through alleys tonight. Boy, did he play well."
The game's biggest momentum shift, however, came on the opening kickoff of the second half. Erik Albeck took the ball from his 1-yard line and weaved 99 yards for an apparent touchdown. But the Vikings were called for a clip near the end of Albeck's run and were then assessed a 15-yard unsportsmanlike penalty after the play, totaling 30 penalty yards and bringing the ball back to the Parker 47.
Badger outgained Parker 224-100 in the first half. After the Vikings took a 7-0 lead on Thompson's 12-yard pass to Cody Taber, Badger went ahead 10-7 on Rory Klean's 2-yard run and a 27-yard field goal by Brendan Gruenwald-Schmitz.
With less than a minute left in the half, Badger sophomore quarterback Peter Krien, who had 19 carries for 114 yards, took advantage of an over-pursuing Parker defense. After pitching the ball on the option to Trevor York with great success all half, Krien kept one himself from his 34, made a quick cutback and barely outran a charging Albeck for a 66-yard touchdown that would be the game's difference.
"I went out and I hit the linebacker, and all of a sudden I see Peter fly by me," Klean said. "He broke about two tackles and outran a (defensive back)."
BADGER 16, PARKER 14
Janesville Parker 7 0 0 7—14
Lake Geneva Badger 7 9 0 0—16
Scoring summary: JP—Cody Taber, 12 pass from Decker Thompson (Cullin Simonson kick). LGB—Rory Klean, 2 run (Gruenwald-Schmitz kick). LGB—FG, Gruenwald-Schmitz, 27. LGB—Peter Krien, 66 run (kick failed). JP—Aaron Ackerman, 10 pass from Thompson (Simonson kick).
Statistics: First downs—JP 14, LGB 13. Rushing—JP 45-150, LGB 48-252. Yards passing—JP 42, LGB 18. Passes—JP 11-5-0, LGB 4-1-1. Fumbles—JP 0-0, LGB 0-0. Penalties—JP 3-30, LGB 2-15.