|11/18/2019 11:09:00 AM|
Defending state champs next for River Valley for berth at state
If it was any other sport the River Valley football team would be playing at the site of the state championships Friday.
Instead they are taking on defending Division 3 champion Catholic Memorial at a neutral site, which, however has artifical turf. much like the site of the state finals, Camp Randall.
Catholic Memorial is no stanger to the big show. Besides the 2018 title they also won in 2016 and 2012 with a runner-up trophy in 2015.
It won't be an easy gig for the Blackhawks but the way they have been playing it will not be an easy outing for Catholic Memorial either.
River Valley coach Tim Eastlick respects the Crusaders and what they bring to the competition.
"Catholic Memorial is the defending D3 WIAA State Champion from 2018," said Eastlick. "They are a very talented, athletic bunch of young men. They have a very high skill set on both sides of the football and are extremely well coached."
The two teams will square off at 7 p.m. Friday at Big Foot.
To reach the semis the Blackhawks had to get past another private school in Lakeside Lutheran and it took all four quarters for the 28-14 win to happen.
Lakeside had the lead at the end of the first half when quarterback Matt Davis drew first blood with a two yard plunge and Tersony Vater kicked the conversion. The Hawks responded with some clutch running from sophomore Zach Gloudeman who stepped in from the three but the conversion try failed which translated into a 7-6 halftime deficit. Those scores came in the first quarter which was followed by a scoreless second.
Adjustment time no doubt.
"We simply told our kids we have to run the ball north and south in this half," Eastlick said. The offensive line needed to step up and the backfield had to follow them. "
Will Bailey got the message and stuck a pair of scores on the board as the Hawks outdistanced Lakeside 21-7 the second half. He started things with a five yard run and added the conversion on a two point scamper that made it 14-7.
Logan Pampel then scored for Lakeside on a one yard run followed by Vater's kick to tie things at 14 all to start the fourth quarter.
If Lakeside brought the camel, the Hawks brought the straw and the back breaker materialized in the form of a 95 yard kick off return by Brandon Springer. Cayden Robson kicked the extra point for a 21-14 lead.
Bailey then hammered the coffin shut with a 14 yard run and Robson's kick gave the Hawks their 28-14 win.
While Bailey had done most of his damage this season with his arm, this game called upon him to use his legs.
"Will had a very good game," Eastlick said. "We knew he could run the ball, but haven't had to use him in that manner until this game."
To go along with Bailey's breakout performance, the kick-off return for a special teams score was huge in this game.
"Brandon's touchdown return was the ignition our guys needed," Eastlick said about the fourth quarter score. "We have been close numerous times this season and him breaking a big one off like that was key for our team. Brandon has gained confidence in his second year of varsity football. He is making a solid contribution on defense and certainly special teams."
Lakeside had some success holding down the River Valley passing game which caused them to go to the run.
"Our plan coming in was solid, however as the game evolved we needed to make some simple half-time adjustments to allow us to run the ball more efficiently," Eastlick said about the game plan. "Defensively Lakeside Lutheran had a solid plan in place against our pass game and their weren't a lot of open windows to throw to in the game."
Bailey ran the ball 15 times for 118 yards. Gloudeman added eight carries for 34 yards and Roman Jensen picked up 24 on 12 carries.
Bailey completed nine passes, three to Maier for 38 yards, two to Will Jewell for 19, two to Gloudeman for 18 and two to Tyler Nachreiner for 15.
Defensively Jesse Day had eight tackles with Cole Stiemke and Josh Maier adding six. Jewell had five with a sack and a tackle for loss.
The Hawks also had a pair of interceptions, one by Maier and the other by Nachreiner.
The Hawks have been busy preparing for the defending state champs and Eastlick expects to see a wide open attack.
"Catholic Memorial will spread us out with their offense and run or pass the ball depending on where they feel they have an advantage," said Eastlick. "Defensively, they will be in a 3-3 look with plenty of coverage help over the top".
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