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Waunakee hammers Eagles

Sauk hopes to bounce back

 

September 27, 2018

Sprecher photography

It was a rough night for Brooks Leister and Sauk Prairie's football team last Friday.

How resilient is the Sauk Prairie prep football team?

After getting blitzed by defending Division 2 state champion Waunakee 51-0 in a Badger North Conference game last Friday night, it didn't take long for the Eagles to turn the page.

They were back in the weight room 10 hours later, beginning preparations for a road trip to conference rival Baraboo on Friday night.

"The next day, you start to focus on Baraboo," junior linebacker Brooks Leister said. "We'll be getting ready all week."

Added senior linebacker and running back Bryant Schaaf: "It's 'Mega-Bowl' week."

Also unofficially known as the 'Sauk County Bowl', the rivalry with Baraboo (2-4, 2-2) takes on added meaning with the teams coveting the 'Mega Bowl" trophy, which was created by former players in the series and goes to the annual winner of the rivalry matchup.

"It's a week that other than playoffs, it's our next biggest game," Schaaf said. "We're already pumped up. Everyone in here is starting to get riled up, especially after last night. We're already looking forward to the next weekend and the Mega Bowl."

Despite being outscored 97-7 the past two weeks, the Eagles still have an opportunity to qualify for the WIAA playoffs for the first time since 2007. To do so, Sauk Prairie would have to win its final three games.

Sauk Prairie (1-5, 1-3 Badger North) closes out the regular season hosting Beaver Dam (2-4, 1-3) on Oct. 5 and at Mount Horeb/Barneveld (5-1, 3-1) on Oct. 12.

That made the reaction of the Eagles after falling to the three-time defending Badger North Conference champion Warriors all the more important to Sauk Prairie head coach Scott Schutt.

"We played hard," Schutt said. "After the game, they had the ability to walk across the track and see their friends and their families and put it behind them. We talked about being competitive and playing hard and being passionate. Their hearts were in it the whole game.

"But then it's about being resilient and moving on. Leave it to the coaches to go in the coaches' room and be grumpy and sulk."

Senior wide receiver Adam Nolden said the team's on-field chemistry is what makes this team able to pick itself up despite a lack of success in the win column.

"Our senior group is pretty tight," Nolden said. "We're a smaller class. That brings us together closer. The juniors are a big class full of a lot of athletes. Our leadership with their athleticism is really nice. We have athletes in the senior class, too, but this is a team that won't quit."

Sauk Prairie managed just 35 yards and four first downs against Waunakee (6-0, 4-0), which has outscored its opponents 301-20 (50.2-3.3 points per game average) and initiated a running clock in four of its six games.

Junior running back Garrett Hertzfeldt led Sauk Prairie with 52 yards rushing in 14 attempts. But the Eagles finished with a minus-36 yards in its remaining 17 running plays.

"They were very athletic, very quick and got to the gaps they needed to get to," Hertzfeldt said. "Where we ran, they were there."

Schutt acknowledged one positive was that the Eagles escaped the game relatively injury free.

"They made plays," Schutt said of Waunakee, which was ranked second in the Associated Press Large Schools' poll. "They're very good, but we weren't overwhelmed like last year.

"We didn't come off the field saying they were super-human. We battled, but they're deep and they're solid. They don't have the name players they did last year, but they're still Waunakee. They were relentless on defense, especially on special teams."

After Sauk Prairie took the opening kickoff, the Eagles were quickly forced to punt.

Waunakee then capped a nine-play, 55-yard drive when senior quarterback Jarrett Wulf rolled around the right end for a 13-yard touchdown.

The Warriors intercepted a pass on the Eagles' next series and needed just six plays to cover 37 yards and grab a 14-0 lead when Wulf connected with senior tight end Austin Keller on a 9-yard touchdown pass.

After Sauk Prairie's three-and-out on its next possession, Waunakee missed a field goal.

But the Warriors blocked a punt on the Eagles' following series and pushed the lead to 21-0 when Wulf and Keller hooked up on a 7-yard TD pass-play.

"All you can do is try to get low and hold your ground and hope someone makes a play," Leister said. "We shut down the run pretty well. It was some big passes that got us."

Waunakee's next nine points came via special teams' plays beginning when an errant snap on a Sauk Prairie punt attempt turned into a safety.

Warriors' senior wide receiver and return specialist Sawyer Maly then returned the ensuing free kick 60 yards for a touchdown and a 30-0 lead midway through the second quarter.

The Eagles, though, were down but not out.

"Everyone gave it their all," Schaaf said. "Our defense was given short fields the first two or three times they had the ball. Granted they scored, but we battled the whole time. They knew our weaknesses and exploited them."

Waunakee scored on its next two series to push the lead to 44-0 at halftime and initiate a running clock to start the second half.

While disappointed in the outcome, Schaaf, who is a multiple-sport athlete like many of his teammates, said he will use the loss to Waunakee as motivation for the rest of his prep career.

"Waunakee's a powerhouse in football, but come wrestling season and baseball season, we're right there with them," said Schaaf, a state placewinner in wrestling and a three-year starter and all-conference performer in baseball.

"They have the numbers in football, but we match up well with them in other sports. This will help motivate us the rest of the year."

• On deck: Sauk Prairie travels to Baraboo to face the Thunderbirds in a Badger North Conference game on Friday beginning at 7 p.m. The Eagles rolled to a 30-14 victory at Homecoming a year ago.

Baraboo is coming off a 42-7 loss at DeForest last week. The Norskies defeated Sauk Prairie 46-7 on Sept. 14.

"It will be a good battle for us," Schutt said of Baraboo. "We like our chances. We still have a shot at the playoffs."

Sept. 21

Waunakee 51, Sauk Prairie 0

Waunakee ................ 14 30 7 0 - 51

Sauk Prairie ............. 0 0 0 0 - 0

W - Jarrett Wulff 13 run (Reese Marek kick)

W - Austin Keller 9 pass from Wulf (Marek kick)

W - Keller 7 pass from Wulf (Marek kick)

W - Safety ball snapped out of end zone

Sprecher photography

Ben Pethan makes a tackle during Sauk Prairie's loss to Waunakee last Friday.

W - Sawyer Maly 60 free kick return (Marek kick)

W - Josh Block 55 pass from Wulf (Marek kick)

W - Maly 29 pass from Wulf (Marek kick)

W - Evan Zwettler 6 run (Saxby kick)

TEAM STATISTICS

First downs - W 9, SP 4. Rushing (Att.-Yds.) - W 28-134, SP 31-16. Passing yards - W 178, SP 19. Passes (Comp.-Att.-Int.) - W 11-12-0, SP 4-14-1. Fumbles-lost - W 0-0, SP 1-1. Penalties-yards - W 7-60, SP 4-32.

INDIVIDUAL LEADERS

Rushing: W, Caden Nelson 6-54. SP, Garrett Hertzfeldt 14-52. Passing: W, Jarrett Wulf 8-8-0-165. SP, Adam Juran 4-14-1-19. Receiving: W, Sawyer Maly 2-55. SP, Adam Nolden 1-9.

 
 

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