In a matchup of two high school football teams battling for their playoff lives, Union Grove fought to what was seemingly the bitter end.
Badger held on to beat the Broncos 28-20 on Friday in a Southern Lakes Conference showdown at Lake Geneva. The loss was likely to keep Union Grove (4-5, 3-4 SLC) out of the WIAA Division 2 playoffs, although coach Craig McClelland held out slim hope for his team to receive one of 15 statewide at-large bids.
After Luke Hansel’s 12-yard touchdown pass to Luke Nelson punctuated a roughly 70-yard drive, the Broncos’ subsequent two-point conversion cut the Badgers’ lead to eight with a little more than a minute left. But the home team recovered the onside kick and gained a critical first down to run out the clock.
“It was nice to show a little life at the end and cut it to one score,” McClelland said.
After an 0-4 start, Badger (4-5, 4-3 SLC) regrouped in time to secure a playoff berth. The Walworth County team, which hasn’t lost to Union Grove in a decade, gained all 203 of its yards on the ground.
“We know who they are,” McClelland said. “They’re a well-disciplined team who doesn’t make mistakes, and they didn’t tonight. They made more plays than us in the second half.”
Hansel had a hand in all three Bronco touchdowns. The first of his two rushing scores helped Union Grove to a 7-6 halftime lead, but the Badgers reached the end zone three times in the second half to pull ahead.
Besides leading the Broncos in rushing with 72 yards on 13 carries, Hansel threw for 112 yards and a pair of interceptions in situations that McClelland said warranted risky throws. Nelson totaled four catches for 50 yards, while Owen Erickson brought in five passes for 38 yards.
McClelland credited two-way player Keith Storm-Voltz for being “all over the place” and, more broadly, expressed pride in his team’s push to the wire.
“I’ve been a part of a lot of times when, week 9, they’re packing it in and getting ready to wrestle or (play) basketball,” McClelland said.
WATERFORD 38, DELAVAN-DARIEN 0: At Delavan, the Wolverines capped off their regular season winning their eighth consecutive game and the outright Southern Lakes Conference championship.
Waterford running back Dominic Miller returned the opening kickoff 91 yards for a touchdown and finished the game with four scores. Miller had 160 total yards.
Waterford (8-1, 7-0 SLC) limited the Comets (1-8, 0-7 SLC) to 35 yards and three first downs. They also totaled 310 rushing yards on 38 carries.
Running back Tanner Keller rushed for 91 yards and a touchdown. Mike Durand, Waterford’s kicker, added a 23-yard field goal in the victory.
“This was a good way to end our regular season,” Wolverines coach Adam Bakken said. “This is only the second time in my tenure of coaching that we’ve been outright conference champs, so these guys should be proud.”
BURLINGTON 47, ELKHORN 21: The Demons rode high off of a 28-point second quarter in the Southern Lakes Conference victory at Burlington.
“It was a slow start for us as we didn’t score in the first quarter, but after our first few drives we were really able to turn it on and get ourselves back on track,” Burlington coach Steve Tenhagen said.
The Demons (7-2, 5-2 SLC) accumulated 534 yards of offense. Quarterback Dalton Damon passed for 188 yards and three touchdowns, and rushed for 107 yards and a score.
Running back Zach Wallace gained 141 yards and scored two touchdowns, while wide receiver Lucas Zasada had four catches for 107 yards and three scores. Zach Anderson had a rushing score as well for Burlington.
“We were able to get the ball moving both through the air and rushing and managed to bounce back nicely after a tough loss last week,” Tenhagen said. “It definitely feels good having a game like this right before the playoffs.”
HORLICK 41, INDIAN TRAIL 21: The Rebels head into the playoffs with a full head of steam after rushing for 352 yards and five touchdowns in a Southeast Conference victory at Horlick Field.
Running back Jaydin McNeal returned on offense after missing much of the past three games because of injuries, and gained 179 yards on 10 carries and scored a touchdown. Allieas Williams added 87 yards on 13 carries and scored two touchdowns in the first quarter to give Horlick (6-3, 5-2 SEC) a 14-0 lead.
The Hawks (5-4, 5-2 SEC) trimmed the lead to 14-7, but the Rebels scored three rushing touchdowns — by quarterback Nate Ramsey, Darrion Folsom and McNeal — in the second quarter to take a 34-7 lead at halftime.
“We have been banged and getting guys back,” said Horlick coach Brian Fletcher. “We are starting to look like the team we were at the beginning of the season.”
“It’s great to go into the playoffs with a win,” Fletcher said. “This was a quality win over a playoff team.”
BRADFORD 19, CASE 7: The Eagles’ season came to an end in a Southeast Conference game at Kenosha as Bradford scored 19 unanswered points to start the game.
In the third quarter, Case quarterback Ben Brawner found wide receiver Colton Coca on a 5-yard touchdown. Brawner later exited the game with a head injury after getting sacked, according to Eagles coach Bryan Shredl.
The Eagles (2-7, 1-6 SEC) had 100 total yards of offense and turned the ball over three times in the loss. Running back Kobe Brown had 68 rushing yards on 22 attempts, but fumbled twice.
“This has been the story of our season,” Shredl said. “We had plenty of chances to score in this one, but couldn’t finish. “This team is young. They’ve got a lot of time to grow and develop; this was a disappointing season, but I know we’ll be better next year.”
OAK CREEK 50, PARK 0: The Panthers couldn’t get the offense going in the final game of the season, losing a Southeast Conference game at Hammes Field.
Park (1-8, 0-7 SEC) was led by running back Trey Kelley, who had 27 rushing yards on seven carries.
“I am really proud of our guys, especially our seniors who’ve done an extraordinary job leading our team this year,” said Park coach Danny Hernandez, adding “We’ve got a solid group of sophomores and juniors and we’re looking forward to what’s to come next year.”
ST. CATHERINE’S 41, ST. JOSEPH 7: Isaiah Dodd rushed for 128 yards on 10 carries and had a touchdown and the Angels completed an undefeated regular season with a Metro Classic Conference win at Kenosha Indian Trail.
St. Catherine’s finished the regular season 9-0 overall and 7-0 in the MCC.
The Lancers struck first following Angels running back Kennan Carter’s fumble. Lancers quarterback Christian Myers rushed for a 90-yard touchdown.
“I think we were still recovering from that big game last week,” said Miller, referencing the Angels’ MCC win against Martin Luther. “But, we responded nicely and I’m happy with where we are at heading into the playoffs.”
The Angels held the Lancers scoreless for the rest of the game, and their offense exploded for 455 total yards and six touchdowns.
Angels wide receiver Aleks Haeuser caught a 38-yard touchdown from Keenan Carter to level the score at 7-7. Dodd then rushed for a 74-yard touchdown, followed by a Rashid Poole 6-yard score on a pass from quarterback Da’Shaun Brown.
The Angels scored three more rushing touchdowns on runs from Brown, Carter, and Demarion Cobb. The team totaled 361 rushing yards and limited the Lancers to 121.