The Waterford High School football team hadn’t played a game for four weeks coming into Friday’s Southern Lakes Conference matchup against Westosha Central.
The casual observer might not have known by the way the Wolverines played.
After a slow start, Waterford got its running game going and turned a pair of second-quarter fumbles into touchdowns as it rolled past the shorthanded Falcons 49-7 at Paddock Lake.
The Wolverines (3-1), who last played Oct. 9 in a 35-9 loss to Burlington, have been one of Racine County’s most affected teams during the COVID-19 pandemic, having three games canceled over three consecutive weeks.
Waterford coach Adam Bakken said his team didn’t come out and play sharp early, but the Wolverines began to find a groove.
“It took a while (to get going),” Bakken said. “You can’t simulate game speed (in practice) and it took a couple series, especially defensively, but we woke up.
“At the end of the day, it was nice to be back on the field.”
Once they settled down and got settled in, the Wolverines used their running game and drove downfield late in the first quarter, finishing on a 4-yard touchdown run by Justin Mittelstaedt for a 7-0 lead.
Westosha (3-4), the only SLC team to play all seven scheduled games this season, was missing a few key players, Bakken said, but answered Waterford’s score three minutes into the second quarter on a touchdown pass from quarterback Michael Mulhollon to Kenny Garth.
That was the only score of the game for the Falcons. It was all Waterford the rest of the second quarter, with four touchdowns in a span of 5:06.
The first two came on passes from quarterback Logan Martinson to wide receiver Gavin Roanhouse, the first on a 15-yard fade route and the second on a 24-yard wheel route, which made it 20-7. All five of Martinson’s completions in the game went to Roanhouse, for 70 yards.
“Gavin is 6-foot-5 and they had a 5-8 guy on him,” Bakken said. “Gavin is really fast and is a huge matchup nightmare. When we throw up a 50-50 ball, I like our chances.”
Westosha fumbled on its next possession and Waterford’s Parker Peterson scored on a 40-yard run soon after. On the ensuing kickoff, the Falcons fumbled and Waterford recovered, leading to a 10-yard TD run by Mittelstaedt, and it was 34-7 at halftime.
Mulhollon left the game late in the first half after a hard hit by the Waterford defense, but that wasn’t the last bad thing to happen to them.
The Wolverines’ Ty Johnson took care of that, returning the second-half kickoff 90 yards for a touchdown and a 42-7 lead.
Mittelstaedt, who had 103 yards rushing and three touchdowns on just seven carries, capped the scoring with a 42-yard run midway through the third quarter.
Overall, Bakken was pleased with the performance, especially with the running game, following such a long layoff.
“This is the healthiest we’ve been all year, so we were able to get back to what we do best — run the ball,” Bakken said. “We were too pass-happy when we played Burlington. We wore (the Falcons) out a little.”
Peterson had 13 carries for 122 yards to lead the ground game, which compiled 304 yards on 33 carries, an average of 9.2 yards per carry.
Waterford held Westosha to 204 total yards.
ST. CATHERINE’S 54, SHORELAND LUTHERAN 14: The Angels used a punishing ground game to beat the Pacers in a Metro Classic Conference game Friday at Somers.
St. Catherine’s (3-3, 3-1 MCC), which finished with two 100-yard rushers and 304 total running yards, got off to a fast start in the first quarter with a pair of passing touchdowns from quarterback John Perugini to wide receiver Davion Thomas (1 yard) and utility back Sam Haeuser (20 yards).
In the second quarter, Demarion Cobb broke free for a 67-yard touchdown to give the Angels a 22-0 lead. Shoreland Lutheran (2-5, 2-4) responded with a touchdown to cut the deficit and had a chance to score in the final minute of the first half after Perugini was intercepted, but the St. Catherine’s defense held and forced a missed field goal at the end of the half.
In the second half, the Angels took control of the game behind their rushing attack, scoring three touchdowns to break the game open.
Cobb got his second touchdown of the game on a 30-yard run to start things off, then Jameer Barker scored from 1 yard and Perugini scored on a 40-yard run for a 46-7 St. Catherine’s lead after three quarters. Barker capped the Angels’ scoring on a late 62-yard TD run.
“They were shifting from a three-(man) front to a four-(man) front, so we had to throw the ball to loosen them up a bit,” St. Catherine’s coach Dan Miller said. “In the second half, we were able to make some adjustments with our blocking.”
The Angels averaged 10.75 yards per carry, led by Cobb with 135 yards on 15 carries and Barker with 110 yards on just six carries. St. Catherine’s was also efficient on key downs, going 4 for 8 on third down and 3 for 3 on fourth down.
On defense, the Angels controlled the line of scrimmage and held the Pacers to minus-8 yards rushing.
“We had some really good penetration with our defensive line,” Miller said. “I thought we played really strong up front.”
Cobb led the way offensively for the Angels with 135 yards rushing while Barker had 110 yards. Perugini threw for 97 yards and Haeuser had three catches for 61 yards.