KENOSHA — Following a one-point win over Greendale Martin Luther last week and with a massive showdown looming next week against St. Catherine’s, some may have been concerned that the Racine Lutheran High School football team would overlook an undefeated Kenosha St. Joseph squad that was playing its homecoming game Saturday afternoon at Ameche Field.
Turns out there was nothing to worry about.
A couple early stalled drives deep in St. Joseph territory and a 30-minute lightning delay late in the second quarter were about the only moments when Racine Lutheran — ranked No. 1 among small schools in the Associated Press state poll — was slowed down in its 35-0 shutout of St. Joseph.
The Crusaders (5-0 overall, 3-0 MCC) kept pace atop the Metro Classic Conference with St. Catherine’s at 3-0, while the Lancers dropped to 4-1 overall and 2-1 in the MCC.
Racine Lutheran will host St. Catherine’s in an 11:30 a.m. MCC game Saturday at Horlick Field. It is the final scheduled game between the two schools before the conference is realigned after this season.
“We did what we needed to do,” Racine Lutheran coach Scott Smith said. “It was a trap game for us. We played Martin Luther, and that was a big game, and next week is our homecoming with St. Cat’s. A lot of people said, ‘You’re going to have a letdown.’ I thought the kids came out and played pretty good today.”
“We made that point to them that (St. Joseph) is 4-0 for a reason.”
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The Crusaders dominated on both lines, opening massive holes for senior running back Tyler Tenner (20 carries, 253 yards, three touchdowns) and junior quarterback Nolan Kraus (12 carries, 104 yards, two touchdowns).
Tenner needs 18 yards against St. Catherine’s Saturday to surpass Eric Oertel and become Racine County’s all-time leading rusher. Oertel, a 2010 Racine Lutheran graduate, finished his high school career with 5,695 yards. Tenner increased his career total to 5,678 on Saturday.
On the defensive side, St. Joseph sophomore quarterback Jacob Ashmus was constantly under siege, while senior running back Jake Gessert — who entered the game with 642 rushing yards and 13 total touchdowns — was mostly contained.
Racine Lutheran took a 21-0 halftime lead on 5-yard run by Kraus and runs of 21 and 19 yards by Tenner. Kraus scored from 13 yards out in the third quarter, then Tenner closed out the scoring with a spectacular 43-yard run with 6 minutes, 43 seconds left in the third to institute a running clock.
Tenner appeared bottled up for a minimal gain along the right sideline by five St. Joseph defenders near the Lancers’ 40-yard line. Somehow, like a magic act, he emerged on his feet and cruised down the sideline to the end zone.
“That’s Tyler,” Smith said. “Tyler’s just special. I’ve seen it over the years with that, where somehow he shoots out of there out of nowhere. He has such great balance and he’s so low to the ground, that’s he hard to wrap up. He goes underneath people.
“He just keeps his balance, and his eyes are always up when he’s running. Even though he’s getting hit, his eyes are looking forward. Tyler’s just unbelievable.”