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August 28, 2012Running wins games; passing wins games, too:
The proliferation of multiple-set offenses often unduly inflates passing yardage numbers, especially for those teams that end up trailing by big margins and are forced to take to the air. So, teams that throw a lot don't always find the scoreboard friendly when the final whistle blows.
However, those teams that control the clock and the game with a solid running attack often find success. That scenario played out with flying colors in the opening weekend of prep football games across the Badger State.
Of the top 20 individual rushing performances in Week One, 17 of them ended up on the winning side.
Amazingly, Hope Christian fell despite Anthony Poe's 303 yards on 41 carries and three touchdowns. On the flip side, Tri-County won that game, 38-28, in large part because of Tyler Schwartzman's 220 yards and five scoring runs.
The only other teams to come up short were Wisconsin Rapids, which got 238 yards from Ryan Duxbury in a 25-14 setback to Wausau East, and Racine Park, which suffered a 38-12 defeat to Cedarburg despite 230 yards from Javail Thomas.
As for the other side, the top 20 passing performers surprisingly finished with a 16-4 mark, although two of the top three yardage leaders came up short: Monona Grove's Brett Percy riddled Waunakee for 389 yards and five TD aerials but lost 45-38, while Southern Door's Mitchel Neubauer tallied 321 yards but suffered a 63-37 loss to Brillion - no defense there.
Champs begin defense
Six of the seven 2011 state championship squads posted victories in Week One.
Division 1 trophy winner Kenosha Bradford took it on the chin, 28-7, on the road against Hudson. A surprise to some, but the Raiders were a D-1 playoff qualifier who dropped a 12-0 decision to eventual runner-up Wisconsin Rapids in the first round. By the way, the Red Raiders also dropped their opener. But they weren't alone, because last year's other two D-1 semifinalists, Verona and Milwaukee Riverside, also started 0-1.
Meanwhile, West De Pere began its quest for a third consecutive D-3 crown with a 56-13 win over Xavier, Wrightstown (D-4) won 30-7, St. Mary's Springs (D-6) cruised 48-7 and Greenwood/Granton rolled 38-0.
The only other champs to struggle were Colby (D-5), which earned a 14-7 verdict over Fall Creek after winning that matchup 32-7 last year, and Waunakee, which is chasing its fourth straight D-2 title. Waunakee rallied from a 14-0 deficit to hold off Monona Grove, 45-38, in the game of the weekend and extend its winning streak to 37 games.
Future Badgers off to roaring starts
Austin Ramesh: The do-everything performer for Northland Pines topped Week One ball carriers with 321 yards rushing on only 21 attempts (15.3). He also registered 17 tackles as the Eagles pulled out a 30-28 win over Calumet, Mich., on Alex Kornely's field goal with six seconds left, revenge for lopsided defeats the past two years.
Alec James: Brookfield East shut down defending Classic Eight champion and 2010 Division 1 state trophy winner Waukesha West, 29-0. James recorded three sacks, while West lost Michigan State recruit Dylan Chmura to an injury in the first quarter.
Chikwe Obasih: He caused havoc during the first half, but he missed most of the second half with cramping issues. However, Brookfield Central rallied with 12 fourth-quarter points to hold off Mukwonago, 19-18.
What a relief
Onalaska Luther ended a 19-game losing streak with a convincing 36-0 decision over Blair-Taylor, last year's Dairyland Conference champion. Luther played an independent schedule in 2010 and then went 0-9 overall and 0-7 in the tough Coulee Conference last fall.