The historic high school football rivalry between Park and Horlick has turned decidedly in favor of the north side kids.
Horlick has won the last five matchups going into the renewal of this annual local showdown Friday night at Horlick Field. The Rebels’ longest streak in a series that started in 1928 is seven straight from 1972-78.
As much progress as second-year coach Andy Siegal has made with Park, the numbers suggest Horlick will be the favorite again. The Rebels have outscored their first four opponents 150-37 behind a devastating running attack while Park has been outscored 112-30 since a season-opening victory against Milwaukee Pius XI.
What will Park, which will be designated the home team Friday, be up against? Consider this: Fullback Jager Clark, who has rushed for 339 yards, is averaging 9.4 yards per carry and that’s the lowest average among Horlick’s trio of running backs.
George Sims (second in the county with 586 yards) averages 17.7 yards per carry. And Joe Garcia (577) averages 12.8.
“In Wisconsin, being able to run the ball is real important if you’re going to make a run late in the year,” Horlick coach Brian Fletcher said.
Siegal, who had only one returning offensive lineman in the program going into this season, has been going through growing pains. The Panthers are averaging only 2.7 yards per rushing attempt through four games. And while sophomore quarterback Rick Canady has shown flashes as a sophomore, he is still inexperienced and has been intercepted 10 times.
Still, Park’s offensive struggles mean little to Fletcher.
“When Park and Horlick play, you can take records and everything else and throw it out the window,” Fletcher said. “Our guys realize what a big rivalry this is. Both schools are going to prepare hard and they’re going to want to have their best game Friday night.”
Much was made at the start of this season about Waterford’s brutal four-game stretch to open the season against Franklin, Kenosha Indian Trail, Lake Geneva Badger and Wilmot. Waterford coach Adam Bakken, whose team split those games, believes Burlington will be just as strong when the two teams meet Friday at Don Dalton Stadium.
“Burlington put up 440 yards of offense against Lake Geneva,” Bakken said. “So they’re unbelievably explosive. So I don’t think our schedule is necessarily going to get any easier Friday.”
Burlington, which has quarterback Nick Klug back after he was out with a leg injury, is explosive in a number of ways. Receiver Nick Webley has caught seven passes for 209 yards and five touchdowns in the last two games. And running back Grant Tully, who replaced Klug when he was injured, has been a multi-purpose threat.
Waterford is more run-oriented than Burlington, but the Wolverines’ running attack is game-changing. Senior Ben Michalowski, who was injured last week, is a two-time first-team All-Southern Lakes Conference player. And sophomore Tanner Keller rushed for 167 yards and three touchdowns on just 15 carries in a 24-13 victory over Wilmot last week.
Recent history has been on Waterford’s side. Since the two teams were re-aligned into the Southern Lakes Conference in 2009, Waterford has won seven of the eight matchups.
St. Catherine’s tested again
For the second straight week, St. Catherine’s is matched against an unbeaten opponent. The Angels travel to Somers for a showdown against Shoreland Lutheran, which was just 3-6 last season.
Here’s a thought why the Angels will be prohibitive favorites: At this point last season, star quarterback Da’Shaun Brown had passed and rushed for 15 touchdowns. This year, that number is just five. And yet, the Angels have used a team effort to start out 4-0 for the first time since 2007 and are ranked eighth among middle-enrollment programs in this week’s Associated Press state poll.
Alec Spang went into his senior season at Union Grove expecting to rotate at linebacker, serve as placekicker and maybe get some snaps at quarterback. But after coach Craig McClelland decided that Luke Nelson would work out better at wide receiver rather than quarterback, Spang found himself behind center on a full-time basis. And he’s been the most productive quarterback in the county.
Spang, who was a backup to Matt Nelson (Luke’s older brother) for three seasons, has completed 59 of 102 passes for 646 yards and four touchdowns. His passing touch was especially on display against Burlington Sept. 1, when he throw touchdown strikes of 53 and 41 yards to Jack Pettit.
For Spang, it’s almost been like a kid in a candy store with talented receivers. Pettit, Jacob Ross and Bubba Rewolinski have combined for 40 receptions so far.
“It’s awesome, honestly,” he said. “Basically, you can drop back and throw it to anybody, pretty much.”
Spang has the added advantage of an outstanding tutor in Union Grove coach Craig McClelland, a former standout quarterback for the Racine Raiders.
“He’s an incredible teacher,” Spang said. “I’ve learned a lot from him and coach (Kyle) Pohjola, who is my quarterback coach.”
Said McClelland, “We kind of tweaked our offense just a little for him. But he has great arm strength. He can make every throw there is to make.”
For hurricane relief
There will be a 50-50 raffle and a game ball raffle Friday night, when Case hosts Kenosha Indian Trail at Hammes Field. All proceeds will go to the American Red Cross to support families impacted by the recent hurricanes in Texas and Florida.
This week’s honors
Team: In a showdown between two unbeaten teams, St. Catherine’s got contributions across the board in defeating Racine Lutheran 33-14. Isaiah Dodd and D.J. Carter each ran for two touchdowns. Among the best defensive efforts were Luke Letsch (nine solo tackles, four assists, two tackles for loss, two passes defensed), Matt Clope (nine solos, five assists, one tackle for loss) and Anthony Cable and Adrian Garcia, each of whom had a sack and two tackles for loss.
Offense: Waterford coach Adam Bakken needed someone to step up with top running back Ben Michalowski injured for a key showdown against Wilmot. Sophomore Tanner Keller did just that, rushing for 167 yards and three touchdowns on 15 carries in the Wolverines’ 24-13 victory.
Defense: Dan Noll is an established playmaking middle linebacker for Waterford and he demonstrated that once again Friday. The senior had two sacks and tackles, “well into the double digits,” according to Waterford coach Adam Bakken, in the Wolverines’ 24-13 victory over Wilmot.
Special teams: Junior Azarien Stephens did a little of everything in St. Catherine’s 33-14 victory over Racine Lutheran. He returned a kickoff 22 yards and a punt 15 yards. On the latter, he broke three tackles and brought the ball out to the Angels’ 33-yard line when they could have been pinned deep in their territory. Stephens also made two solo tackles on kick returns by Lutheran.