September 8, 2023 at 11:35 a.m.

Hillmen handle Dodgers in SWC opener

It all started with a partially blocked punt and went downhill from there.

The Platteville Hillmen blocked a fourth down punt after a six play Dodgeville drive that started the SWC opener Friday. They took possession on Dodgeville’s 36 yard line and one play later the Hillmen were in the end zone and an extra point made it 7-0 at 8:45.

The Hillmen did not stop there. They kept on scoring until they had a 48-0 halftime lead and the score stayed there during the continuous clock last two periods.

The second drive for the Dodgers got them from their own 27 to their own 47 before a fourth down pass left them two yards short. The drive included a 11 yard pass to Jack Heimerl and he added four yards on the ground.  He received the two yard pass on fourth down but Platteville took over. Platteville scored again at 3:54 on a 15 yard pass and the conversion made it 14-0.

The Dodgers gave the ball up again on  a three and out and Platteville went on a drive that ended with a quarterback keeper and moved the score to 21-0 with 1:54 left in the first frame.

The Hillmen went on a drive after another three and out by the Dodgers and carried it into the second quarter. At 10:27 they scored on a pass play and led 28-0 early in the frame.

Another three and out followed and punter Joey Honerbaum had to scramble to the Dodgeville 27.  Platteville took over the scored on another pass five plays later and the lead jumped to 35-0.

The lead then jumped twice more before halftime as the Hillmen scored on a five yard run at 4:12 and again at 1:22 when they intercepted a pass. That let them cruise into halftime leading 48-0.

The Dodgers a chance to score when Noah Pittz sprinted 92 yards  to the end zone with a Brady Jabs pass but it was called back for holding.

The Dodgers fell to 1-2 with the loss and will head to River Valley Friday for week two of SWC play.

Dodgeville coach Jakob Kastenholz said it all started with the blocked punt that weighed on the their confidence.

“The blocked punt was huge for them, and we let the momentum from that snowball out of control,” Kastenholz said. 

He also said the Dodgers had trouble adjusting to the defensive scheme used by the Hillmen.

“Defensively they routinely sent the house, but that was exactly the kind of pressure we expected from them,” the coach said.  “We need to do a better job of adjusting to those things.”

Kastenholz felt the Dodgers had some success with their rushing game but the young line is still learning how to adjust.

“We broke out a couple good runs, but we need to do a better job picking up slants and stunts up front,” Kastenholz said.  “Our line is very young so they haven't seen a ton of things like that, but they have been developing quickly, and I am confident they will continue to develop.”

It was a busy night for the trainer as several players were helped off the field.

“We had some bumps and bruises, but most of the guys were able to get back in later in the game,” Kastenholz said. “Those things were definitely a factor in this game, but that is part of football. We had guys that were ready to step in, and they did a nice job.”

One of the injuries was to one of Dodgeville’s top linemen Izaak Duran, a junior who saw considerable action as a sophomore.

“We are unsure about Izaak's status at this point, but we are obviously hoping for the best,” said the coach. 

Overall it was another night of learning for the Dodgers who are still fairly young and inexperienced.

“We had our fair share of good plays and bright spots, but we just weren't able to string them together on either side of the ball.” Kastenholz pointed out. “We had some success early running the ball which was nice to see. This team has some heart and some tenacity though, and I am happy with how they responded in the second half and continued to battle, and I think that is what we have to continue to build off of. “

“They did a nice job bouncing back at the end, but we need to do a better job of bouncing back quickly in situations.” added Kastenholz. “Things tend to snowball for us sometimes, and we need to do a better job of quickly moving on from mistakes/missed opportunities.” 

Kastenholz said the Dodgers will see more of the same at River Valley Friday when the Dodgers take on the Blackhawks on their new turf field.

“We expect to see another spread attack from Valley, similar to what we saw from Platteville,” the coach said.  “And I'm sure that after they watch this game film, they will take notice and bring pressure as well. Defensively we need to shore up our coverage and prevent the big plays. We need to stay the course and continue to have confidence. With a group as young as ours, the development happens fairly quickly, and we are excited to get back to work this week and compete Friday.”