Badger High School running back Tanner Garrels (No. 10) fights off a Union Grove defender during last week’s game. The Badgers lost, 33-27, in overtime. (Chad Hensiak photo)

Team faces must-win games next two weeks

By Jason Arndt

Staff Writer

Lake Geneva Badger finds itself in a peculiar position after the Badgers fell to host Union Grove in a heartbreaking overtime loss Oct. 4.

The Badgers, who dropped to 4-3 overall following the 33-27 loss, must win their next two games to qualify for a WIAA Division 1 playoff berth because they boast a 2-3 Southern Lakes Conference record.

Lake Geneva, which needs two wins for an automatic bid, faces an uphill battle as it hosts Delavan-Darien (2-5, 1-4 SLC) Friday before concluding its season against unbeaten Waterford (7-0, 5-0 SLC) on Oct. 18.

“We got to win two games in a row, otherwise, we are not going to make the post-season, so that is the way it is,” said Badger coach Matt Hensler.

The last time Badger missed the post-season was in 2005, when the team played in the Lakeshore Conference, finishing 4-5 overall and 2-4 in conference play.

In the Oct. 4 contest at Union Grove, meanwhile, the Badgers and Broncos carried a 27-27 deadlock into the first overtime.

After Lake Geneva Badger could not score to open overtime, the Broncos capitalized on the next possession, thanks a Nick Williams’ 5-yard touchdown run on a read option from quarterback Nash Wolf.

“I saw a lot of Badgers coming at me, but I knew in my heart that I was going to be in the end zone,” Williams said about the decisive score.

 

Minimizing mistakes

Union Grove coach Craig McClelland said his team’s ability to minimize its own mistakes while capitalizing on Badger’s miscues were key components to the Oct. 4 victory.

While Badger committed five turnovers, including three lost fumbles, Union Grove remained flawless on offense.

Additionally, the Badgers committed 19 penalties for 183 total yards, compared to Union Grove’s 10 for 90 yards.

“Going against Lake Geneva, you are always facing a disciplined team,” he said. “You got to understand that you can’t make many mistakes.”

Stopping the Badgers run game, consisting of bruising fullback Cole Gabor-Pullen, was another matter.

Gabor-Pullen, a 6-foot-1 and 226 pound senior, entered Friday’s contest with 849 yards rushing through six games.

“You got to pack it in, they got a big fullback, and Badger does a really good job of running the triple option,” McClelland said.

“Our biggest thing was taking away the run, taking away the inside run, which for the most part, we did a really good job of doing that.”

Although Gabor-Pullen amassed 139 yards on 21 carries, most of them came in the first half before the Broncos’ defense started taking away the inside rush in the third and fourth quarter.

“We had over 200 yards rushing in the first half, but we just kept giving them the ball,” Hensler said. “They played very well and played better than us.”

The Broncos’ mission to minimize the run game in the second half forced Lake Geneva to turn to its passing attack.

Grant DuMez, who went 5-for-11 in passing for 76 yards, threw two second half interceptions.

“We kind of got them out their element and made them throw the ball,” McClelland said.

 

Back-and-forth battle

Badger, however, carried 13-6 edge into the second quarter following two rushing touchdowns.

After Carter Lazzaroni ran in for a 41-yard score, the Broncos answered with a 24-yard touchdown run by Garrett Foldy, which cut the Badgers’ lead to 7-6 following a failed kick.

A touchdown by Gabor-Pullen and failed kick put Badger ahead 13-6 after the first quarter.

The Broncos, meanwhile, responded in the second quarter with two touchdowns to take a 20-13 lead entering halftime.

Quarterback Nash Wolf, who completed 14 of 21 passes for 166 yards, opened the scoring with 2-yard run and later found Ryan Davis for 30-yard touchdown strike.

Badger reclaimed the lead in the third quarter, thanks to a Tannor Garrels 2-yard run followed by a DuMez 10-yard score, which put Lake Geneva ahead 27-20.

Wolf then answered in the fourth quarter with a 1-yard touchdown run to force overtime, where the Badgers could not convert in their first possession.

The Broncos, winless in SLC play entering the Oct. 4 contest, took advantage of the opportunity and came away with its first conference win on the read option to Williams.

“We were winless in the conference coming into this, we thought we have been in a lot of games, including Burlington and Wilmot, and obviously losing to Delavan, that was tough for us, so we have been in a lot of games and we finally played a full team game,” said McClelland, whose team improved to 2-5 overall.

 
 

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